Two pumps transfer water from the Colorado River to the Fire Break Canal to bolster water levels in the Topock Marsh. Photo courtesy Tim Dewar

Topock Marsh water levels drop; agencies work to correct water levels

MOHAVE VALLEY – The Bureau of Reclamation, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is working to correct a significant drop in water levels in Topock Marsh. The 4,000-acre marsh is adjacent to the Colorado River in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. Managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service, it serves as a recreation area and wildlife habitat for the tri-state area.

Unusually low demands for water from downstream users and a control-gate leak contributed to the drop in the marsh’s water levels.

To provide some relief, Reclamation recently installed two temporary pumps and began pumping water from the Colorado River into the marsh’s Fire Break Canal inlet. The pumps will run continuously through February and deliver at least 5,000 acre-feet of water to the marsh.

In 2022, Reclamation began designing a permanent, automated, pumping station to eliminate reliance on the current gravity-fed system. Construction of the pumping station and the nine-mile electrical line needed to operate the pumps is scheduled to begin this year with completion slated for January 2026.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the day-to-day operation of Topock Marsh including routine maintenance of three boat ramps and recreation areas. Until the pump system is complete, the service will continue monitoring water levels and conditions at the marsh to assess potential effects to wildlife.