In addition to community-based restoration and binational governmental collaboration, the Sonoran Institute’s conservation work in the Delta is founded on years of research and ecological monitoring. Since 2005 Sonoran Institute and partners have been monitoring riparian and marsh/wetland habitat conditions, water quantity and quality, and diversity and abundance of wildlife, particularly fish and avian species in the Delta. Our research drives the focus of our conservation priorities and goals, forming the base from which to develop restoration models and evaluate the progress and impact of our conservation work in the Delta.
Sonoran Institute and partners are currently conducting ecological monitoring in the following areas:
The Hardy River
The Hardy River, a 25-mile long tributary of the Colorado River, carries 6,000-11,000 acre-feet of agricultural drainage water per year and now receives approximately 240 liters/second of effluent from Las Arenitas Wastewater Treatment Plant. Monitoring of water quality and quantity as well as fish abundance is helping us to inform local people who use the river for recreation, hunting and fishing of the river’s health. Coming soon… more on the Hardy River
Limited river flows and the presence of a sand bar acting as a physical barrier between what remains of the Colorado River and the ocean are likely causing the decline of the Upper Gulf of California fisheries and estuarine habitat. In order to better understand the relationship between river flows and marine species populations, we are developing an ecological model based on the monitoring of several key ecological indicators.
Fed by the agricultural runoff of the Welton and Mohawk valleys in Arizona, this accidental manmade wetland is now the largest and most important wetland in the Delta, providing habitat to more than 150,000 migratory birds and the endangered Yuma Clapper Rail. With the recent construction of a desalinization plant in Yuma, monitoring water quality and quantity has become even more critical to ensuring the preservation of this biosphere reserve.
The 250-acre Las Arenitas Wastewater Treatment Wetland is currently one of few artificial wetlands created in Mexico to treat wastewater. This innovative approach to wastewater management uses natural processes to aid in the filtration and cleaning of wastewater while additionally providing habitat to many bird species and other wildlife. Bird abundance and diversity as well as water quality and quantity are being monitored at the wetland to ensure that the effluent from the treatment plant meets environmental standards.