May 23, 2016--Whitewater release a go for lower Dolores River (Durango Herald)

It’s official: There will be a whitewater release on the lower Dolores River below McPhee Dam, the first since 2011. 
Reservoir managers have announced a 10-day spill at an approximate rate of 1,000 cubic feet per second. However, the plan is to begin the release the first weekend of June instead of over Memorial Day as forecasted last week. “There will be a spill, and by pushing it forward, we’re setting up the boaters for a longer season with improved rafting flows,” said Mike Preston, manager for the Dolores Water Conservancy District. Warmer weather beyond the current five-day forecast could accelerate the start of the spill by a few days. McPhee will fill and provide full farmer allocations, with an estimated left-over water for rafting. Cooler, stormy weather and significant snowpack holding in the mountains forced managers to adjust the timing of the spill until the first weekend of June.  Reservoir managers are waiting on a second peak runoff from remaining snowpack. Preston said the delay is to avoid the possibility of two small spills and their associated ramp-up and ramp-down water needs. For safety, spills are gradually increased 200 cfs at a time, then reversed at the end of the controlled spill. Releasing rafting flows for Memorial Day weekend was not seen as ideal for boaters because managers would have to stop it to allow the reservoir to fill. Then a second spill would likely be required to avoid overfilling the reservoir as the second peak finishes coming down. “Delaying for one release saves ramping water to extend the season,” Preston said. The benefits of a single combined spill of rafting flows allows for longer trips and less down-river congestion of boaters. The district worked closely with the Dolores River Boating Advocates on the early June release decision. To view the full article visit the Durango Herald.