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2017-4-27 McPhee Release Update


2017 McPhee Release Update


Thursday April 27, 2017:  McPhee releases continue as scheduled. 


Today – May 1:  Releases will be at Optimum Flows, 1,900 – 2,100.


May 2 – May 8:  Releases will be High Flows, 2,100+


May 4, 5 & 6:  Releases will be High Flows at 4,000 CFS +/-


Ramp down starts Sunday May 7 & continues over 3 days down to boatable flows, 800 – 1200 CFS.  These flows should run through May while filling McPhee reservoir, but post peak release rates & duration are dependent on future weather and inflows.  Stay tuned.


Still New from the BLM:  NOTICE BOATERS!

Conditions on the river, especially below Gypsum Valley, have been reported as very dry and risk of campfires getting out of control is a serious concern.  Last year’s grasses are dry and not yet replaced by green spring growth.  Additionally, spring winds are picking up.  PLEASE use extra caution when camping in the river corridor.  Keep any cooking fires small.  As always, use your fire pan and blanket.  Select an area for your fire pan that is away from dry fuels.  Monitor the wind.  Ensure your fire is cold before going to bed.  Have water and a shovel at hand at all times.  Thank you and have a safe and enjoyable trip!


Back to releases:


Summary:  We are set for the next 10 days.  We’ll have more information on post high flows in future updates. 


The ramp down after May 8 will continue down to boatable flows in the 800 – 1,200 CFS range while McPhee fills prior to Memorial Day.  Forecasts continue to drop and boating releases may not reach into June.


Boatable Releases are 800 CFS – 1,900 CFS

Optimal Releases are 1,900 – 2,100 CFS

High Releases are 2,100 CFS and greater


Continue to watch the releases below McPhee at and the gages linked below.


Several Notices:

SLICKROCK:  Slickrock put-in/take-out access will happen on private property downstream of Hwy 141 bridge (bridge crosses Dolores River) about 200 yards past bridge on river left.  Look for small flagging in bushes on left.  DO NOT use the old boat ramp on river right upstream of bridge.  That is private property and is not accessible this season.  Additional info about Slickrock access here from DRBA:

BEDROCK BRIDGE:  The temporary equipment bridge (the low clearance one) was removed Thursday afternoon March 30. No intermittent closures are expected for a week or two. When a more definitive start date is available CDOT will provide notice.  Please see their website at  and look for signs, spotters and other guidance from the contractor, SEMA Construction, when the intermittent closures are active.


American Whitewater also provides good information about this year’s rafting opportunities and details for boaters at


DOVE CREEK PUMPHOUSE ROAD:  Please be careful of heavy traffic in and out of the Dove Creek Pumps launch site.  The road narrows and trucks with trailers cannot pass each other at certain points.  Consideration of others and patience are appreciated here.


Rico Gage:


Dolores Gage:


McPhee Elevation & Capacity:


Dolores below McPhee:


Slickrock Gage:


Bedrock Gage:


Ramp down is not currently expected until early June, but that schedule could change depending on continued spring weather.  The snow on the ground that is starting to melt will carry us through the first 45 days.  When the Dolores Inflow matches the McPhee outflow on the way down a last peak we will start ramping down.  From 800 CFS down we cut back to 600 over 24 hours and then hold for 24 hours.  This pattern repeats through 400, then 200 then down to 75 CFS and we’re done.  Ultimately you will have 4 days from 800 CFS to below 400 CFS when the releases start down.