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McPhee Release Update April 30, 2018


Limited Fish Pool Releases Below McPhee

CBRFC forecasts have continued to fall as each storm passed by the upper Dolores watershed.  There will be no spill (managed release) in 2018.  The fish pool like the farmers will be shorted in 2018.  CPW continues to evaluate and update release amounts with each new forecast.  Fishery releases look to top out between 40 – 50 CFS over the summer.

Final numbers won’t be calculated until July, when CPW can make a final release schedule.  Current inflow forecasts continue to look similar to 2002, the worst year in Dolores Project (McPhee) records.  Only 1977 appears to be slightly drier than 2002 for the complete 100+ year Dolores River gaging record.

The Dolores Project irrigators, towns and fishery will use all of the current carry over storage in McPhee.  Next year’s supply will depend slightly on monsoons later this summer and mostly on next winter’s  snow pack.  Ending the 2018 water year with little to no carryover increases the risk of deeper Project shortage next 2019 irrigation season.

New 900 CFS ISF below the confluence with the San Miguel

A recent court case upheld the new 900 CFS instream flow right from April 15 to June 15 below the confluence of the San Miguel with the Dolores River.  These flows will only be available when snow pack produces sufficient natural runoff to provide 900 CFS from a combination of both rivers.  These new junior water rights do not affect senior water rights such as McPhee Reservoir diversions & releases, but may restrict additional new municipal supplies to Norwood, Naturita & Nucla.