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Dolores River Releases for 2009

Posted: 03/16/2009
By: Nathan Fey

Here we are in mid-March with the high elevation snow in the Dolores and San Miguel watersheds at about 106% of normal and dropping daily.  Therefore estimates for spring flows in the Lower Dolores River below McPhee Reservoir are a little below normal. 


What that means in numbers is a managed spill of around 67,000 AF based on Dolores Water Conservancy District's (DWCD) current reservoir elevations.  Flows in April will stay low, 50 to 200 CFS.   The DWCD will start increasing releases in early May towards 400 CFS.  Reservoir operators have committed to facilitating the Colorado Department of Wildlife fish surveys for the week of May 11 to 15, when releases will run 400 CFS.  After that week releases will raise flows to rafting levels of 800 to 1200 CFS.  We expect those flows to last 2 to 4 weeks at this point and should include Memorial Day.


Boatable flows will be concentrated from mid May into early June.  As always, June rafting will be more unpredictable, so plan around May 15 to 31, 2009.  We will get new updated forecasts in early April and May which will confirm or modify this forecast.  It’s never too late to think snow!  A late storm would help solidify this year’s rafting releases.


We will periodically update this website as new information.  Twice weekly updates will start as flows rise for May 11, 2009 fish survey. 


The most current releases are available at Division of Water Resources site, Dolores gage below McPhee,  See more rafting detailed recommendations from our local Public Lands office at


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