Working Papers
PDF | Free | 23 pages
Download PDF

Sustainability of Colorado River Delta Riparian Habitat Under Different Water Management and Climate Change Scenarios

Karen Schlatter, Matthew Grabau, and Summer Waters

October 2015, English

River systems in the arid western United States and northwestern Mexico have been greatly altered by anthropogenic impacts, resulting in extensive riparian habitat degradation. In some areas, such as the Colorado River corridor in Mexico, however, remnant riparian habitat is still supported by agricultural surface and subsurface water flows. Yet, remaining riparian habitat is increasingly vulnerable due to climate change and shifting agricultural water management practices. In some cases, environmental flow deliveries may be able to compensate for changes in groundwater levels under different climate and water management scenarios. Through the integration of hydrologic modeling with existing vegetation data from the Colorado River corridor in Mexico, we are developing a decision support tool to determine the extent of riparian habitat that can be supported under different climate change, environmental flow, and agricultural flow scenarios in the region.