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Positive Outlook for Lower Dolores Flows This Spring!

Posted: 05/09/2019
By: Hattie Johnson

The Dolores Water Conservation District recently put out their updated spill prediction based on the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center's May 1st inflow forecast. In addition to a positive forecast, low and middle elevation snowpack has raised McPhee water levels at approximately a foot per day. This lower elevation snow and May storm cycle have also helped in keeping fields wet and pushing back the start of irrigation season. One more benefit of the healthy low elevation snowpack was the flows downstream of McPhee reached boatable levels for over a week. Many regional boaters were out enjoying these natural flows and levels even reached 2,000 cfs for a period!


In their two most recent updates, the DWCD has projected "spills" (managed releases from McPhee Reservoir) lasting 3-4 weeks. The cooler weather expected in the coming week will likely slow inflow into McPhee, however operators are still predicting that the reservoir will be full the week before Memorial Day and that they will start releasing water for whitewater boating at that time. This is a slight change from earlier predictions that had a spill not starting until June. 


The DWCD will put out another forecast in about a week and then will continue to communicate through their website every Monday and Thursday throughout the duration of the boating release. We will also be sharing the release updates as they come out through our website and social media.


American Whitewater will continue to be involved in weekly meetings discussing management of the spill. We will focus on the goals and the flow targets developed by the recreational community, while also working with our conservation partners, such as the Nature Conservancy and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, to ensure ecological goals are also met.  


If you are planning on a lower Dolores trip this year (and we hope you are) please share your photos and videos in our library. 

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