POSTED BY ERIC SPRAGUE ON APRIL 15, 2021
McPhee is currently releasing approximately 15 CFS for the downstream fishery, which will continue through April 20th. Due to the deteriorating runoff forecast and low reservoir carryover coming out of 2020, McPhee is expected to release low flows of 10 CFS or less downstream through the remainder of the 2021 water year.
There will be no managed release of excess water from McPhee this runoff season.
The McPhee basin runoff forecast is currently at 27% of the historical 35 year average (CBRFC official 50% exceedance forecast). The forecast started low this year in response to dry conditions, and the snowpack remained below the median throughout the winter. This, combined with McPhee’s low storage after drought year 2020 put the Dolores Project firmly into a water shortage at the begining of the runoff season.
Since April 1st, the CBRFC’s model forecasts have fallen daily as April has come in dry and windy. Looking forward, in the short-term, some precipitation is expected at higher elevations over the new two days as a low-pressure system skirts the basin to the north. The direction it will travel is difficult for weather forecasters to predict, so there is a high degree of uncertainty.
As it would take significant precipitation over the next two months to meaningfully change conditions, the forecast is expected to continue to fall.
For more details on the current official forecast, go to https://www.cbrfc.noaa.gov/wsup/graph/front/espplot_dg.html?year=2021&id=MPHC2
Dolores Gage: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09166500
McPhee Elevation & Capacity: https://dwr.state.co.us/surfacewater/data/detail_tabular.aspx?ID=MCPRESCO&MTYPE=STORAGE
Dolores below McPhee: https://dwr.state.co.us/surfacewater/data/detail_graph.aspx?ID=DOLBMCCO&MTYPE=DISCHRG
Slickrock Gage: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09168730
Bedrock Gage: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09171100
Bureau of Land Management: https://www.blm.gov/visit/dolores-river-srma
The BLM has a detailed boating map of the Dolores river posted on their website. Link below.
BLM Avenza Map page for the Dolores: https://www.blm.gov/documents/colorado/public-room/map/colorado-dolores-river-100k-boating-map-17×40
The following are links to the American Whitewater River Inventory pages for the lower Dolores River: