Today, McPhee will begin running temperature suppression flows of about 100 CFS downstream in support of the fishery – this will be on top of the current fishery releases of 40 CFS, bringing the total releases to approximately 140 CFS. These flows will run until the beginning of the managed release or “spill”, which will start on Tuesday May 21st. Releases will then 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 then 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. The managed release is expected to continue after May 30th for an undetermined period of time and at undetermined flow rates.
There is still a significant amount of uncertainty associated with both the modeled runoff volumes and the weather forecasts. While almost all of the low snow in McPhee’s drainage basin has melted out, there is still a substantial amount of high-elevation snow (above 9,500 ft) remaining. Like last week, 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 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. Expect the next website update early next week, when managers will begin posting regular updates twice weekly, as information comes in and the spill evolves.
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: 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