POSTED BY ERIC SPRAGUE ON APRIL 25, 2023
As a result of the substantial early runoff resulting from the record amount of low-elevation snowpack, McPhee is rising over a foot a day, and has reached an elevation of 6901 feet, leaving only about 90,000 acre-feet of storage remaining until full. With the majority of the upper basin snowpack remaining and some warming expected this weekend with continued higher inflow volumes, DWCD and the USBR has decided to begin the managed release this week. The earlier release also provides an important opportunity to take advantage of existing downstream flows to target channel maintenance, native fish habitat, and ecological goals set for 2023.
McPhee is currently releasing approximately 75 CFS for the downstream fishery. Starting this Friday, April 28th, releases will begin ramping up to reach 1,200 CFS on April 30th. Flows are planned to remain at 1,200 CFS through May 5th, when they are expected to increase again, likely reaching around 3,000 CFS. The high runoff from low snowmelt is the primary factor guiding this early start, and it is difficult to predict how much will come down this weekend. If inflows come in faster than current predictions, there is the possibility that releases may increase above 1,200 CFS sooner than May 5th.
For planning purposes at this stage, the spill looks like it could last more than 4 weeks, though the length and volume of the spill remain unknown. The first half of the spill will have more certainty than the second.
Notice: The Bureau of Reclamation and Dolores River Boating Advocates will co-host a public meeting on the spill at the Dolores Community Center at 6:00 PM on Thursday May 4th.
Notice: The county road to the Dove Creek pumps turnout is still undergoing maintenance after the flooding last week, and is not currently accessible for recreation.
As usual, we will continue to monitor conditions and will update this page as McPhee fills and the season develops.
For more details on the current official forecast, go to https://www.cbrfc.noaa.gov/wsup/graph/front/espplot_dg.html?year=2023&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: