Latest News and Announcements

McPhee Release Update for Thursday April 9, 2020

McPhee is currently releasing approximately 35 CFS for the
downstream fishery, which will continue through the end of April at the
direction of CPW, when releases will increase to 50 CFS.

A managed release from McPhee continues to look unlikely for
this runoff season. For more information on the forecast, see below.

Notice from the USBR:

The Bureau of Reclamation does not anticipate hosting a public meeting regarding reservoir operations this spring because of the reduced likelihood of a managed release and to help prevent spread of COVID-19 in accordance with CDC, state and local guidance.

A note from the
Dolores River Boating Advocates (DRBA):

“Regardless of spill or no spill this season, more info about best boating practices in light of Covid-19 can be found at DRBA’s website and Facebook, and on American Whitewater’s (AW’s) website and Facebook.  Links to both websites are below.  This article from AW expresses boating options for this season:  How to Paddle in a Pandemic:”

We will update this page again later during the season if
there are any significant developments. 

More Forecast Info:

The McPhee basin runoff forecast – which fell steadily as a
result of below average precipitation during February and early March – was
buoyed briefly by the late March storms, but the improved forecast remained
insufficient to fill McPhee.

Since the April 1st official forecast, the CBRFC’s daily model forecasts have continued to fall as dry conditions quickly returned. Looking forward, in the short-term, there is a chance for some more moisture as a storm may be expected this weekend as the result of a closed low-pressure system currently moving west over Arizona. As a closed system, the direction it will travel is difficult for weather forecasters to predict, and there is a high degree of uncertainty with these types of events. It is possible the storm will just skirt the region as it passes to the south. If we do not see significant results from this storm, we can expect the forecast to continue to fall.

Longer term, the uncertainty in the forecast only increases.
The Climate Prediction Center’s 30-day precipitation outlook reports neutral
chances of increased versus decreased precipitation, while their three-month
outlook reports a 40% or greater probability of below average precipitation in
Southwest Colorado.

For more details on
the current official forecast, go to

Useful Links:

Dolores Gage:

McPhee Elevation &

Dolores below



Bureau of Land

The BLM has a detailed
boating map of the Dolores river posted on their website. Link below.

BLM Avenza Map page
for the Dolores:×40



The following are
links to the American Whitewater River Inventory pages for the lower Dolores

Bradfield to Dove Creek

Dove Creek to Slickrock

Slickrock to Bedrock

Bedrock to Gateway

Gateway to Confluence with the Colorado River

DWCD 2018 Outlook for McPhee and Dolores Project Irrigators

Current forecast odds are barely enough for a full irrigation supply in 2018, with the CBRFC 50% forecast having dropped 20 KAF in the last month.  Carry over storage is likely to be low and threatens the 2019 supply.  More updates in early March.

CBRFC Exceedance Worst Case 90% 70% 50% – MP 30% 10%
Forecast Inflow  KAF

(April – July)

46 61 86 110 155 200
% Supply 77% 82% 95% 100% 100% 100%
FSA Contract Allocation Inches/Acre 17” 18” 21” 22” 22” 22”


MP – Most Probable, 50/50 chance, coin toss, median forecast based on historical weather & resulting hydrology.

FSA – Full Service Area, Yellow Jacket to Dove Creek (No adjustments are made to irrigation pools that could increase based on M&I lease, Class B & Water Bank)

The 30 year average April through July runoff for McPhee is 295,000 acre feet.  We have the potential to collect precipitation towards the spring runoff through May.

The grim February forecast followed January’s continuing lack of snow.  At the beginning of this month, there was only about 40% of the normal snow pack with a high pressure ridge is persisting over the western US, diverting the majority of precipitation to the north. Based on the current conditions the forecast only gives a 3% chance of the Dolores basin reaching average runoff this year. If the high pressure ridge breaks down in March we should see the storm track return to our area.  If high pressure remains we’ll continue missing more normal precipitation.

McPhee currently has 132,000 Acre Feet of active storage that can provide nearly half of the 2018 water diversion needs for our community.  This higher than normal carry over provides some insurance given the current conditions.  With inflows remaining on the low end, carryover into 2019 will be low and increase the potential for future shortages.

Dolores Project Municipal supplies are not subject to shortage based on contract and/or senior water rights in some cases.  This applies to MWC, Cortez, Towaoc and Dove Creek.

Contact Ken or Eric at 882-2164 #5 & #6 respectively or visit

Final Drought Contingency Plan Update

Final version of Dolores Project Drought Contingency Plan. See link below.

CLEAN Final Draft DPDCP with Reclamation Comments Addressed

Drought Contingency Plan Update in Response to Reclamation Review

Latest version addressing Reclamation comments that will be discussed at the January 11th Board Meeting. See links below.


Letter to Boards January Board Meetings


Final Draft DPDCP with Reclamation Comments Addressed

Drought Contingency Plan – Update


Revised Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) is available below.

The attached version shows the redline changes incorporating public comments.  This includes the appendices where Appendix C contains all the public comments.  A revised schedule is included in the September 6, 2017 Harris Water Engineering Memo.  From this point forward the MVIC & DWCD Boards will direct the DCP to a final version for Reclamation review.  Any further comments should be directed to the appropriate Board.

Letter to Boards for review updated draft Plan

Draft Dolores Project Drought Contingency Plan with red lines 20170906

Appendix A and documents

Appendix B and documents

Appendix C coverpage

Public Comments 1 of 2

Public Comments 2 of 2


Public Meeting on Lower Dolores River 2017 Boating Releases

Lower Dolores River

2017 Post Release

Presentation and Discussion

Wednesday, August 16th

Dolores Community Center

6 – 8 PM


DOLORES, Colorado – June 27, 2017

To help accommodate increased motorized boating at McPhee Reservoir, the invasive species inspection station for the House Creek Boat Ramp will extend its hours of operation over the coming holiday weekend. The House Creek inspection station will be open from 6a.m. to 8p.m. Friday, June 30 through Tuesday, July 4. McPhee is one of a few reservoirs in southwestern Colorado with operating mussel inspection stations that allow for motorized boating in its waters. In addition to House Creek, the inspection station at the McPhee Boat Ramp will remain open seven days a week from 6a.m. to 8 p.m.; however, the McPhee Boat Ramp is often more crowded than the House Creek Boat Ramp. All other access points to McPhee Reservoir have been gated to prevent uninspected boats from entering the reservoir.

All motorized boats should be prepped prior to launching to reduce time at the ramp.  Previously inspected boats carrying documentation and tags moving through the inspection station process in about 10 minutes.  The process for boats that have not been cleaned, drained and dried, and thus require decontamination takes more time.


For more information, contact Tom Rice at 970 882 6843.

Drought Contingency Plan-Update

DWCD will host a public meeting to discuss McElmo concerns with the current Draft Drought Contingency Plan.

McElmo Public Meeting

7:00 PM Monday July 17, 2017

DWCD Cortez Office 60 S. Cactus Street

Final comments are now due July 21, 2017 for future consideration by the MVIC and DWCD Boards, tentatively scheduled for September.

Comments are being collected by: Harris Water Engineering 954 East Second Av. Durango, CO 81301 or via email at A copy of the plan is available at





July 2017 Board Meetings DWCD Board Meeting – July 13
MVIC Board Meeting – July 11
Board Comments Due July 21 by EOD
Public Comments Due July 21 by EOD
Planning Task Force Reviews Comments July 31
August 2017 Comments Matrix with recommendations from the Planning Task Force on how each comment will be addressed in the Plan DWCD Board Meeting – August 10
MVIC Board Meeting – August 8
September 2017 Boards review, modify, and approve how each comment is addressed DWCD Board Meeting – September 14
MVIC Board Meeting – September 12
HWE incorporates comments in the next draft of the Plan Ongoing in September
Optional: Comments and recommendations posted on the website September 18
October 2017 Redlined and clean versions of the Plan provided to the Boards for review DWCD Board Meeting – October 12
MVIC Board Meeting – October 10
November 2017 Discuss with Boards any additional comments to be incorporated DWCD Board Meeting – November 9
MVIC Board Meeting – November 14
Final draft of Plan submitted to Bureau of Reclamation for review November 17
January 2018 Boards review any comments provided by Bureau of Reclamation; possible Boards’ action of acceptance of the Plan (depending on level of comments received) DWCD Board Meeting – January 9
MVIC Board Meeting – January 11
February 2018 Possible Boards’ action of acceptance of the Plan DWCD Board Meeting – February 8
MVIC Board Meeting – February 13
March 2018 Final Plan due to Bureau of Reclamation March 31


McPhee Boat Ramp Use Increases in 2017

United States Department of Agriculture

San Juan National Forest
15 Burnett Ct.

Durango, CO 81301
(970) 247-4874


News Release


-Boaters Urged to Use Parking Areas and Ramps Efficiently-

DOLORES, Colorado – June 22, 2017 – McPhee Reservoir is seeing increased use this summer due to decreased opportunities for motorized boating on other southwestern Colorado reservoirs that have been closed to guard against the introduction of aquatic nuisance species. McPhee is one of a few reservoirs in southwestern Colorado with operating mussel inspection stations that allow for motorized boating in its waters.

The McPhee boat ramp has seen an 85 percent increase in inspections this summer from last year.  Because of the increased usage, parking areas and boat ramps are experiencing heavy congestion, especially on weekends.  The Forest Service urges visitors to use parking areas and ramps as efficiently as possible to lessen congestion.  Boats should be prepped prior to launching to reduce time at the ramp and directional traffic signs in the parking lots should be followed to ensure safety for all visitors.

Those parking vehicles without trailers are asked to use overflow parking areas to leave the larger main parking areas available for vehicles with trailers.  Weekday users will find less crowded conditions.  Those who do visit on weekends could consider using the House Creek Boat Ramp as an alternative, which is often less crowded.

The inspection stations are working smoothly, with previously inspected boats carrying documentation and tags moving through the process within five to 10 minutes.  Boats that have not been cleaned, drained and dried, and thus require decontamination procedures are urged to enter inspection stations during weekdays, rather than during busy weekends, as this process takes more time.

Inspection stations are open seven days a week at the McPhee Boat Ramp and Friday through Monday at the House Creek Boat Ramp, both from 6a.m. to 8 p.m.  All other access points to McPhee Reservoir have been gated to prevent uninspected boats from entering the reservoir.

For more information, contact Tom Rice at 970 882 6843


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Invasive Mussel Risk to Colorado Public Meeting

7:00 PM Thursday June 8 at the Dolores Community Center

Robert Walters of Colorado Parks and Wildlife will present the latest risk and activities around Colorado’s efforts to prevent the introduction and infestation of invasive in our local lakes.