The Rio Grande is disappearing. Demand for water is growing as snow packs shrink, rain patterns shift and average temperatures rise faster than they ever have in the past 11,000 years.Read more
With the Red River, San Cristobal Creek and Rio Hondo flowing into the Rio Grande along this 9.5-mile-long reach, the river starts to show more of the influence of the land it flows through. This reach is called La Junta, which in Spanish means the meeting or the joining.
The Red River and its tributaries cut through metal-rich rock and several metal mines including the Questa Mine, which Chevron announced it had permanently closed on June 2. The mine had been active for almost a century and on the Environmental Protection Agency’s national priority list, aka Superfund list, for cleanup since 2011.
Locals told us that, when it rains, the creek can turn a milky yellow. But today the water was clear and cool, the pH and dissolved oxygen were at levels healthy for fish and the waters provided a nice boost to the flows of the Rio Grande.
Downstream, the San Cristobal Creek, Rio Hondo and several springs were also contributing clear water. By the time I got to the John Dunn Bridge in the late afternoon to meet Erich, the river was broad and I no longer had to worry about hitting rocks.
The bridge was also the first party scene I had come across on the banks of the river. There were a couple of nudists enjoying the sun on an isolated beach. Farther down, rock ‘n’ roll was blaring from pickups parked on a gravel bar and dogs were swimming in the river.
I gave the nudists a wide berth and herded one of the dogs back to the beach. Its owner was concerned it would try to follow me to the gulf. With the spring and creeks flowing, it felt like there was enough water to actually make it.
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As they travel, Colin and Erich are taking water samples for the following periodic water quality tests. In partnership with The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment’s Texas Stream Team Program at Texas State University, the results will be added to a public database it helps maintain for research and monitoring water quality.
While making his way to the Gulf of Mexico, Colin will be periodically activating a device that uses satellite technology to share his current location. Use this map to see where he traveled on this day.
|Check-In||Time of Check-In (CST)||Latitude||Longitude|
To report on and understand the haphazard irrigation system the Rio Grande has become and the changes it is going through, Colin decided the best approach would be to travel the length of the Rio Grande by foot and small boat.
He knew it would give him a unique perspective on a river that few understand. It did require many long days of moving slowly and camping on muddy riverbanks, but Colin likes that sort of thing.
The benefit was it provided access to people who wanted to share their stories and experiences with the Rio Grande. Via Facebook and chance encounters, Colin made instant friends who opened their homes. They provided help from loaning their trucks to their cell phone contact lists to help tell the story of the Rio Grande.
The trip would not have been possible without their help, along with the dedicated assistance of David Lozano, Jason Jones and Daniel Dibona, who drove thousands of miles to get people and boats in place.