LOS ALGODONES, B.C. – I made it to Yuma with time to spare this afternoon, so I dumped my bags at the motel and drove around to the Andrade border crossing and through the little town of Algodones (best dentists in North America!) to Morelos Dam.
I couldn’t find the angle to get the picture I wanted, so you’ll have to settle for some words. In the picture above, we’re on the downstream side of the dam, which diverts the last of the Colorado River’s waters to farms in Mexico. The dam’s closed, so the water you see is just groundwater leaking through. If you look closely at the dirt road on the right side of the picture, you’ll see a little gap. That’s all that’s left of the Colorado River. Words fail me, here’s a closeup of all that’s left of the Colorado River. Hard to get a feel for the scale here, but there was a guy out walking his dog. The dog splashed from Mexico to the U.S. and back in just a few seconds.
It’s a nice shallow pool, so of course there were birds:
- a green heron
- some undetermined sandpipers
- a bunch of black-necked stilts (lordy, such graceful creatures)
- I’m pretty sure a blue-winged teal
- lots of coots (“American” coots, to be specific)
- a gallinule
Since I’m down here to watch the historic release of Colorado River water back into the long-dried delta, this of course raises all kinds of fascinating questions about what is “nature”. It’s just a bunch of dam leakage confined by levees. Whatever. The egret was gorgeous:
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Life was pretty different 40 years ago when I lived in Yuma. Algodones was a sleepy little town with two Dentists and about 2 blocks of tourist shops. One Dentist would advertise on KBLU TV late night. The commercial would boast, “We even have an X-ray machine.” We thought it was pretty cheesy but that was Algodones. The river was different too. I use to go fishing with two guys below Morelos Dam. One spot in particular was a good cat fishing spot. Spent many a night drinking cold Olympia beer and fishing.
Times have changed. Algodones has become the Dental capital for the region and the river is no more below the dam. Sign of the times. Funny thing, excess water usually flows into Mexico due to cancelled water orders upstream. They take every drop to supply the needs of the Mexicali Valley.
When you are dealing with poverty and the needs for water in your own region to fuel the economy – you have priorities. Life is tough in the South West. It is tougher now then it was 40 years ago.
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