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April 20, 2017 Update


2017 McPhee Release Update


Thursday April 20, 2017:  McPhee releases continue at boatable flows of 1,100 to 1,900 CFS through the near term 3 – 5 days. 


 April 25 – May 1:  Releases will be at Optimum Flows, 1,900 – 2,100, for at least 7 days.

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

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


Summary:  April mid-month forecast dropped 40,000 AF, but inflow rates and reservoir elevations are driving spill operations.  Inflow remains high, but will fluctuate with a series of cold fronts pushing through, with chance of some mountain precipitation.  New operating trigger is to start 4,000 CFS High Flows at McPhee reservoir elevation 6921.  Between now and next Tuesday flows should remain steady and then ramp up on Sunday, but may ramp up sooner than Monday 4/24 based on conditions.  Releases will continue at Optimum for 7 days before ramping up for a minimum 3 days at approximately 4,000 CFS through the May 4 – 6 weekend.  Ramping up takes 2 days and ramping down takes 3 days making 8 days at High Flows, possibly extended one day if conditions warrant. 


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 still project sufficient runoff for continued boatable releases into early 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.