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Dolores River (CO) 2019 Releases Wrapping Up

Posted: 06/24/2019
by Hattie Johnson

As runoff begins to slow in the Dolores River Basin, releases from McPhee Reservoir are beginning to ramp down. After spiking Friday, cold weather brought inflows rapidly down. Releases are expected to remain at 1,200 CFS going into the week and remain there until Thursday June 27th. Flows are expected to remain at or above 1,000 CFS through next weekend, Sunday June 30th. Please continue to check in to the Dolores Water Conservation District's (DWCD) release page for details. Low boatable releases are 800 CFS - 1,900 CFS. See the links below for gage and reservoir elevation data.


The large snowpack coupled with a cool and wet spring/early summer has made for a late and extended "spill" season on the Lower Dolores this year. This has provided an opportunity to attempt experimental flow management to meet ecological goals such as channel maintenance and bank destabilization while maintaining great recreational flows. In addition to the DWCD and Bureau of Reclamation, organizations such as Colorado Parks and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, American Whitewater, Dolores River Boating Advocates, and the Bureau of Land Management meet weekly to discuss how the releases from McPhee will be managed and can achieve the goals of these diverse stakeholders. The group has had effective communication and collaboration this year. We have worked on improving descriptive and understandable messaging to the boating community.


Last week, American Whitewater joined Dolores River Boating Advocates and Conservation Lands Foundation in hosting a float trip through the Ponderosa Gorge (Bradfield Rec Area the to the Dove Creek Pump Station) with members of the "spill" team, as well as The Wilderness Society, and John Whitney of Senator Bennet's Southwest Office. It was a wonderful opportunity to discuss successes and failures of this year's releases while observing and enjoying high flows around 3,400 CFS. The photo above is of our lunch discussion on ecological goals - what worked this year and what could have been better. Being out on this river we discuss in countless meetings has added ease of communication within the group.



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

American Whitewater
Hattie Johnson
Phone: 970-456-8533


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Dolores River (CO)
American Whitewater is working to conserve and restore a dynamic, healthy Dolores River by leveraging recreational water needs to enhance and support in-stream flows.

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