McPhee Reservoir managers are predicting a whitewater boating release from the dam in time for Memorial Day weekend.
The reservoir is rising more than a foot per day, and irrigation diversion demand remains very low, according to the Dolores Water Conservancy District.
So far, low snowpack below 9,000 feet has generated most of the runoff into the reservoir. Now, upper-elevation snowpack is beginning to release into the Dolores River and McPhee.
Recent storms have added to the snowpack and slowed the runoff. Sunny days over the weekend restarted the high-elevation melt-off, but it is again expected to slow with more storms and cooler temperatures arriving into the region this week. Next week, sunny, warm weather is expected to return and expedite melting.
“What all this means is McPhee should be close to full the week before Memorial Day, which likely will start the 2019 managed release,” said DWCD engineer Ken Curtis.
For planning purposes, the length of the whitewater release is expected to last three to four weeks. Although the start date may vary, the first half of the estimated spill length is more certain the second half, Curtis said.