AN ADDITIONAL CIE SEMINAR ANNOUNCEMENT: CIE Seminar Series 2014 – Chasing water: Bio-physical and social impact of the first environmental flows to the Colorado River delta

Karl FlessaSPEAKER: Professor Karl FlessaDepartment of Geosciences, University of Arizona
DATE: Friday, 27th June 2014
LOCATION: Warrnambool Campus, Room B3.03
TIME11:00 am
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Room LT4 and Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka5.321

ABSTRACT: In most years since 1960, the Colorado River has not reached the sea. This year, 130 gigalitres of environmental water was delivered to the Colorado River Delta in Mexico during an 8 week period that ended May 18. This “pulse flow” is the result of a new and temporary modification to the US-Mexico Water Treaty of 1944 that also calls for Mexico and the U.S. to share future shortages, allows Mexico to store water in a U.S. reservoir, and supports measures to conserve water.

Teams of university, agency and NGO scientists from both countries are monitoring the bio-physical effects of the pulse flow. The pulse flow’s hydrograph was designed to mimic the spring floods that flowed in the era before upstream dams and diversions. NGOs are raising funds to supply another 65 gigalitres for base flow to support new and existing vegetation and wildlife. The local community celebrated the water’s arrival.

Despite widespread drought in western North America, media coverage and direct interviews in both the US and Mexico were strongly favourable. Posted reader comments were 4:1 opposed to the pulse, but when one news website was excluded from the analysis, comments were equally divided. Some negative comments will guide monitoring efforts to document the long-term benefits of the flow.

BIO: Karl Flessa is a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at Ecosystem Sciences CSIRO and a Professor of Geosciences at the University of Arizona. He and his students have been working on the conservation biology of the Colorado River Delta since 1992.

His current research focuses on the use of skeletal remains and stable isotopes in conservation biology, the environmental effects of water diversions, and the role of science in public policy. He has authored more than 100 scientific articles and co-edited four books, including Conservation of Shared Environments: Learning from the United States and Mexico.

He is Co-Chief Scientist of the Minute 319 Monitoring Program for the Colorado River Delta, a four-year effort to evaluate the hydrologic and environmental effects of the first environmental flows to the Colorado River delta.

For enquiries and appointments with the guest speaker, please email Jan Barton.