McPhee Reservoir is expected to provide a full irrigation supply, but a boating release below the dam is not expected, water officials report.
Dolores Basin snowpack was at 96% of average April 9, and runoff forecasts show a strong probability the reservoir will nearly fill, said Eric Sprague, engineering technician for the Dolores Water Conservancy District during a meeting held via video conferencing.
Farmers are expected to receive their full allocations.
No monsoons and a warm fall dried out the soil. Early winter snowfall hovered near the historical average until it dropped after a dry February and early March. Storms in late March bumped it back up to nearly normal.
But the combination of low soil moisture, nonexistent low-elevation snow and irrigation demand means a whitewater boating release is unlikely, said Ken Curtis, general manager of the Water Conservancy.
“There is less than a 30% chance of a spill,” Curtis said.
Runoff forecasts show the Dolores Basin snowpack will generate 130,000 to 200,000 acre-feet, and it takes from May through July to make it into the reservoir, he said.
Average soil moisture in the Dolores River Basin is estimated to be below 50%, so a lot of the runoff will be absorbed into the ground before draining into McPhee, Groundhog and Narraguinnep reservoirs.
McPhee has an active carryover supply of 127,000 acre-feet. A full active supply is 230,000 acre-feet.
Because of the unlikelihood of a recreational dam release, the annual whitewater boating meeting in Dolores this year is not planned.
During the 2018-19 winter, snowpack was 140% of normal and generated a 51-day whitewater boating release below McPhee Dam.
During the dry 2017-18 winter, snowpack was 50% of normal and caused irrigation shortages and no whitewater spill.