For the first time in many years, the Colorado River is apparently about to reach the sea.
Based on aerial photos taken of the Colorado River Delta, the world-renowned delta pulse flow that started nearly two months ago is likely to connect with the Gulf of California on Thursday, a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation official said this morning.
"Based on these more recent aerial images . . . with Thursday's projected high tide event in the delta, the river should re-connect with the sea then," said Jack Simes, the bureau's area planning officer for Southern California and its spokesman for the delta pulse flow project.
Having the river reach the gulf was not the purpose of the delta pulse flow, which ran from March 23 to May 8. Its purpose was mainly environmental restoration. That includes raising groundwater levels and bringing back the cottonwood-willow tree habitat that used to adorn the delta before Hoover, Glen Canyon and other dams choked off the river's flow into Mexico.
But this event -- assuming it happens -- will have symbolic importance, conservationists say.
Jennifer Pitt, of the Environmental Defense Fund in Boulder, said she doesn't know if the river reaching the gulf will have ecological significance, but there will be cultural significance in the river reaching its natural destination.
"It's deeply satisfying to see the river meet the upper gulf. We've been missing that connection for a long time," said Pitt, director of the fund's Colorado River Project.