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[en] For the first time in history, water was intentionally released for environmental purposes into the final, otherwise dry, 160-km stretch of the Colorado River basin, south of the Mexican border. Between March and May 2014 three pulses of water with a total volume of 132 × 10"6 m"3 were released to assess the restoration potential of endemic flora along its course and to reach its estuary. The latter had not received a sustained input of fresh water and nutrients from its main fluvial source for over 50 years because of numerous upstream dam constructions. During this pulse flow large amounts of water were lost and negligible amounts reached the ocean. While some of these water losses can be attributed to plant uptake and infiltration, we were able to quantify evaporation losses between 16.1 to 17.3% of the original water mass % within the first 80 km after the Morels Dam with water stable isotope data. Our results showed no evidence for freshwater reaching the upper Colorado River estuary and it is assumed that the pulse flow had only negligible influences on the coastal ecosystem. Future water releases that aim on ecological restoration need to become more frequent and should have larger volumes if more significant effects are to be established on the area. - Highlights: • Isotope ratios of oxygen and hydrogen quantify water lost through evaporation. • Evaporation losses between 16.1 and 17.3% during the 2014 Colorado River • Larger water volumes are required to influence the estuary ecosystem.