2017 McPhee Release Update
March 27, 2017: Current hydrologic conditions will require McPhee to “spill” this year.
McPhee Releases Ramping Up later this week.
Summary: A warm March has started the runoff early and driving McPhee elevations up, approaching 6915 and rising. Therefore we will start ramping up flows this Wednesday March 29, 2017. McPhee releases will reach 800 CFS by Friday March 31, 2017 and 1,200 CFS by Saturday April 1, 2017. Updates will start more regularly next Monday. Continue to watch the releases below McPhee at http://www.dwr.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/data/detail_graph.aspx?ID=DOLBMCCO&MTYPE=DISCHRG and the gages linked below.
March stayed dry up until last week. Since then we’ve received two storms with more on the way. What’s been more of an impact were the warmer sunny days for most of March. Those record warm days translated into an isothermal snow pack across Colorado that is all poised to start melting. Although there was some warning, it became very apparent last week that the runoff was coming in much higher and sooner than normal. We often see some early melt then cooler weather that slows down the runoff. The recent storms and cloud cover has steadied the inflow, but irrigation has not started and McPhee continues to rise. Storms are possible for another 10 -14 days, but will only slow the rising runoff, not stop the inflow.
We expect to reach 2,000 CFS flows next week and still intend to release higher 4,000 CFS releases later in spring, but are still adjusting plans to the changing runoff. We will post the next update Monday April 3 and again later next week when we receive an April 1st forecast from CBRFC.
DOVE CREEK PUMPHOUSE ROAD: Please be careful of heavy traffic in and out of the Dove Creek Pumps launch site. The road narrows and trucks with trailers cannot pass each other at certain points. Consideration of others and patience are appreciated here.
SLICKROCK: DRBA is working to coordinate the take out at Slickrock, not sure if it will be old or new one. Both locations are on private property so please respect all rules to keep them open for the future. More at the DRBA site: http://doloresriverboating.org/.
American Whitewater likewise has good information about this year’s rafting opportunities and details for boaters at http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/detail/id/385/.
BEDROCK BRIDGE: Remember that CDOT has bridge work going on at Bedrock that may require short delays for safe passage. Please see their website at https://www.codot.gov/news/2017-news/march/caution-to-boaters-near-co-90-bedrock-bridge-low-bridge-in-place-through-april-8-intermittent-river-closures-begin-mid-april and look for signs, spotters and other guidance from the contractor, SEMA Construction.
Rico Gage: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09165000
Dolores Gage: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09166500
McPhee Elevation & Capacity: http://www.dwr.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/data/detail_tabular.aspx?ID=MCPRESCO&MTYPE=ELEV
Dolores below McPhee: http://www.dwr.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/data/detail_graph.aspx?ID=DOLBMCCO&MTYPE=DISCHRG
Slickrock Gage: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09168730
Bedrock Gage: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?09171100
Ramp down is not currently expected until early June, but that schedule could change depending on continued spring weather. The snow on the ground that is starting to melt will carry us through the first 45 days. When the Dolores Inflow matches the McPhee outflow on the way down a last peak we will start ramping down. From 800 CFS down we cut back to 600 over 24 hours and then hold for 24 hours. This pattern repeats through 400, then 200 then down to 75 CFS and we’re done. Ultimately you will have 4 days from 800 CFS to below 400 CFS when the releases start down.