If you intend to spend time on the Dolores River below McPhee Reservoir, please read this entire post and check back regularly. We’ll be updating here twice weekly, usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and this is the best source of information on downstream releases from McPhee.
At the bottom of this post are some links to flow data sources and recreational organizations including Dolores River Boating Advocates and American Whitewater. These organizations can tell you more about what to expect floating the Dolores downstream of McPhee.
McPhee is currently releasing 1,000 CFS downstream as we ramp down in order to reach 800 CFS by this evening (June 6th), where we expect to remain into next week. With the June update, the monthly forecasted volumetric inflow decreased enough that releases could no longer be sustained at 1,200 CFS while still filling McPhee.
At this point, the reduced forecast means we can no longer expect consistent flows of 800 CFS or more to occur after approximately Wednesday, June 14th. At that time, operators will drop flows as low as necessary to finish filling McPhee before the seasonal recession reduces inflows too low for the reservoir to finish filling.
McPhee is currently at 6921.6 FT water surface elevation. When McPhee is near full (6924 FT), releases will mimic the pattern of inflows into the reservoir minus diversions (predicted to be about 700 CFS) in order to keep the water surface elevation stable. This means releases will start following a less consistent, diurnal pattern similar to inflows where flows will vary throughout the day. Downstream releases could be more or less than 800 CFS at that time, will be determined based on inflows, and are expected to decrease on average until downstream releases reach the planned base flow of 75 CFS. CBRFC produces a daily inflow forecast that provides an idea of what inflows to expect moving forward. It is a model and therefore bears a measure of uncertainty, but it may still be an informative source when releases begin mimicking the river. You can find it at https://www.cbrfc.noaa.gov/dbdata/station/flowgraph/flowgraph_hc.html?id=MPHC2&ptype=2&linear_flow=0.
As always, the forecast can change, and the remaining length of the spill is unknown. Particularly this late into the spill, releases below McPhee can change at any time. Check this page as well as the river gages before making plans downstream.
American Whitewater has asked us to post a link to their online rafter survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DoloresBoaters2023.
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: