Old Water and New Knowledge at Cienega Creek

“How old is your water?” That’s not a common question among water users, or even in water education, yet it’s high on the list for Dr. Jennifer McIntosh. She’s an Associate Professor in Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona whose focus is the elemental and isotopic chemistry of water. For her, estimating the age of water can be a key tool in understanding the structure and functioning of aquifers. More…

A Pulse for Science

Karl Flessa, Professor of Geosciences at the University of Arizona and Co-Chief of the Science Team for the Colorado River Delta Pulse Flow, gets very animated about this natural experiment. “It doesn’t take much to get me started on my favorite topic,” he said to Dos Aguas. His excitement has a solid basis: after decades of studying the decline of this once vibrant delta through its remains, the large Pulse experiment is designed to see if part of it can be rejuvenated – to learn what happens to the land, vegetation and animals when adding a one-time pulse of water. For eight weeks in 2014 the Colorado Delta Pulse Flow project released 107,000 acre feet of water into the dry channel of the Colorado River – a few drops of “back to the future.” Now we have the first report of the results. More…

Colorado Delta Diary

In the 20th century human beings managed to divert and assign ownership to every single drop of water in the Colorado River, leaving nothing for the riverbed and its surrounding delta below Yuma, Arizona. Since 1965 the only flow into these last one hundred miles of the river has been water no one wanted: spring floods too voluminous for the irrigation or diversion canals, groundwater below irrigated fields too salty for good crop growth, urban sewage too contaminated for reuse. Now in the 21st century there are efforts to find new sources of water to rejuvenate some of the Colorado Delta’s former abundance. More…

Controversy at Ciénega Creek

The Empire Ranch entrance road transports its travelers from 21st century Sonoran Desert – scattered desert scrub, paved highways, speeding traffic, Border Patrol checkpoints, copper mine arguments – into a world of different dimensions. More…

The View from López Pass

López Pass sits at 5305 feet above sea level in the middle section of Santa Rita Ridge, the northern arm of the Santa Rita Mountains in southern Arizona. It offers an expansive view – west to the Santa Cruz Basin, and east to the Cienega Basin.

And, at the time of the full moon, it is the place to have a conversation with Francisco Eduardo Valdés Acuña.

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Mountain Springs at Rosemont

Springs were once plentiful along the slopes of the Santa Rita Mountains, the broken rocks of the mountains leaking moisture down the slopes to support sedge, a few sycamore or sometimes willow and cottonwood trees, Sonoran Desert wildlife, and eventually men and cattle. Most of the springs are gone now, or much diminished. The men are also gone, but not diminished. More…

Dos Aguas in Bouse

On an ordinary day there are two classes of water in Bouse, Arizona – water for local use (supplies pumped from the Ranegras Plain aquifer 50 and more feet below the surface), and that water just passing through (Colorado River water being pumped uphill, south and east in the canal of the Central Arizona Project, or CAP). On the last day of September, 2012, these two sources of water were mixed unexpectedly and with much drama. Here’s a Dos Aguas report from the key locations of the story: Bouse, CAP headquarters, and Lake Pleasant.

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