Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014



Okay...  Here's a geography question for you:  How is the Colorado River different from all other great American Rivers like the Mississippi, Columbia and Hudson?  While these three rivers empty into large bodies of water...the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans... the Colorado never makes it to the open sea.  Seventy miles prior to reaching the Gulf of California, the mighty river comes to a sudden halt at the Morelos Dam.  Here the last drops of water are consumed by Arizona, the last of seven US states in the basin.  Not even a drop makes it across the border to Mexico.

That all changed on Thursday!  Thousands of cheering people gathered on both sides of the US / Mexico border to witness history.  Thanks to bountiful Rocky Mountain rainfall the last couple of years, a landmark international agreement occurred.  The result is a partial restoration of the Colorado River's actual route. Simply put, this means for the first time...in half a century...water was released from the last enclosure. Now the Colorado can join the other US river-friends and be complete!

This may seem insignificant to many, but not to Carlos Bazua.  The Mexicali resident drove to the San Luis Bridge to witness the event firsthand.  "Since I was a kid, my father told me that...long ago...there was water here," he explained as he stood waist deep in the flowing current.  "But I do not remember that." In fact, Carlos could never have recalled the Colorado River, as the 47-year-old wasn't alive prior to the Morelos Dam's opening in 1964.

You might be asking yourself:  Is it legal for one nation to keep all the water from a shared body of water? Aren't there international laws to regulate this?  Of course there are!  In 1951, the Helsinki Rules were ratified by the United Nations.  This code clearly states that countries must share natural resources that span mutual territory.  The United States knows it is in clear violation of the ordinance.  However...since there is no international body to enforce the Helsinki Rules...Mexico has been forced to accept the loss of its right to the much needed water of the Colorado River delta.

However...until May 18th...the US is playing by the rules.  For this short period, the oasis that once blessed the arid Sonoran Desert is back.  Prior to the 1962, the Colorado River Delta was bustling with farms and fisheries.  There was ample wildlife, including hordes of migrating birds and butterflies.  While none of these can return in eight short weeks, the dreams of restoring the ecosystem are back.  Unfortunately, the audacity of America will never be quenched.  Other nations who really need water share rivers.  For example, Ethiopia would love to keep all Nile River water, but it doesn't.  Likewise, Turkey wants more of the Tigris and Euphrates...

It seems poor nations are better at sharing than the rich ones...


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