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Monday May 20, 2019 McPhee Release Update


Today’s update is largely unchanged from lats week’s. McPhee continues to release temperature suppression flows of about 100 CFS downstream on top of the current fishery releases, bringing the total releases to approximately 140 CFS. These flows will run until the beginning of the managed release or “spill”, which will start after noon tomorrow, Tuesday May 21st. Releases will increase at a rate of about 400 CFS per day in order to achieve releases of 1,200 CFS by the morning of Friday May 24th. This rate will be maintained through Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of Memorial Day weekend. On the morning of Tuesday May 28th, flows will ramp down to 800 CFS and will remain there at least through noon on Thursday May 30th.

Due to the active low pressure patterns that continue to attenuate inflows into the reservoir, McPhee is not filling at the anticipated rate. As a result, the spill may be temporarily shut down around the end of the month in order to allow the reservoir to fill before beginning releases again. When this would begin and how long it would last depends largely on what the inflows do in the next several days.

There is still a significant amount of uncertainty associated with both the modeled runoff volumes and the weather forecasts. Like the last two weeks, inflows into McPhee continue to fluctuate in reaction to the varying low-pressure systems moving over the region. This uncertainty makes planning the managed release particularly challenging and is expected to continue into the known future. It is impossible at present to determine the length, volume, and timing of the release after May 30th. There is a good chance that inflow forecasts may stabilize in early June with the possibility of a high-pressure ridge settling over the area, freeing inflows to follow more traditional and predictable runoff patterns.

As always, managers are monitoring conditions and are in regular communication with the CBRFC. Managers will continue to post updates on Mondays and Thursdays with any new information and decisions.

DWCD and the USBR have been working together in communication with representatives from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, Dolores River Boating Advocates, and American Whitewater in order to optimize the spill to achieve both recreational and ecological goals within the constraints of project operations, maximizing downstream opportunities while satisfying the regular operational goals of the Bureau, the District, and McPhee Reservoir.


If you have questions, the best way to address DWCD is through the “Contact” page of this website. Otherwise you can try calling 970-882-2164 extensions 5, 1 or 6.


Dolores Gage:

McPhee Elevation & Capacity:

Dolores below McPhee:

Slickrock Gage:

Bedrock Gage: