Dolores River (CO) 2019 Release Update
This spring in Colorado has been so cool and wet that the U.S. Drought Monitor has officially declared the state drought free. For paddlers this has meant a slow start to the boating season in a lot of places and excitement for the long season expected. For reservoir operators the delayed inflows mean more uncertainty.
Memorial Day releases on the Dolores River provided a great opportunity for boaters to enjoy flows of 1200 cfs for the long weekend. American Whitewater advocated for these releases but stressed that continued boatable flows were most desirable. Unfortunately, more cool and wet weather kept McPhee Reservoir from filling at a rate that made the operators comfortable to continue to release.
Starting yesterday, May 30th, flows began ramping down and will reach a level of 400 cfs by midnight the morning of Sunday June 2nd. With warm weather in the forecast however, the release will then ramp back up beginning the morning of Wednesday June 5th and will be up to 1,200 cfs by midnight the morning of Friday, June 7th. Flows will then remain at least 1,200 cfs until Sunday, June 23rd. Please see the Dolores Water Conservation District website's release page for details on these release changes. They will be posting weekly updates on Monday and Thursday, so continue to check back into their site for the most detailed operation plans.
We will continue with weekly meetings to discuss the release with DWCD and the Bureau of Reclamation. As summer weather finally hits and the reservoir gets full, we expect to see flows in the Lower Dolores at 2,000 cfs or higher. Providing a range of flows benefits the breadth of whitewater crafts and experiences, and also meets ecological goals such as improving fish habitat and channel maintenance.