This page contains ground-based and aerial photos of Morelos Dam just south of where California, Arizona and Mexico meet.
Morelos Dam was constructed in 1950 after The Mexican Water Treaty of 1944, which allocated Mexico a guaranteed 1.5 million acre-feet of Colorado River water every year. Morelos Dam allows Mexico to divert Colorado River water to the Mexicali Valley, which is one of the largest and most agriculturally productive valleys in the country. The dam is operated by the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), an international organization created by the United States and Mexico in 1889 to manage binational issues concerning boundaries, water rights and more.
Although the Colorado River’s natural terminus is the Gulf of California, diversions throughout the United States and northern Mexico stop the river’s flow long before it makes it there. During a five month stretch from May to October 2021, the U.S. and Mexican governments agreed to release 35,000 acre feet of water via a pulse flow—an experimental release of water down natural channels—over the final 100 miles of the Colorado River in attempt to mimic the spring floods that used to drench the delta. This is the second time water has been released below the Morelos Dam, the first occurring in 2014 over an eight-week period.
- Suzanne Potter, “Colorado River flows once again to Gulf of California,” Public News Service, September 7, 2021.
- Nina Lakhani, “The lost river: Mexicans fight for mighty waterway taken by the US,” The Guardian, October 21, 2019.
- Jennifer Pitt, “Reconnecting the Colorado River to the sea,” Audubon, May 13, 2021.
|Location||Morelos Dam, Mexico (map)|
|Credit||Ted Wood/The Water Desk|
|Rights||Free to reuse under Creative Commons license.|
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