Flows between 800 and 1,200 cubic feet per second are expected through Sunday, and could possibly go longer depending on the final runoff volume from high country snows.
As of Monday morning, June 5, flows below the dam had ramped up to 1,200 cfs, and will increase to 1,400 — 1,600 cfs in the next few days. Flowing into McPhee Reservoir at the town of Dolores, the river is running at almost 3,000 cfs, and has been steadily climbing since May 31.
“It is a great time to be on the river, especially in this warmer weather,” said Dolores River Ranger Sam Carter. “Boaters should be aware the flows will be fluctuating quite a bit on this second release.”
Boaters should check the latest release schedule at doloreswater.com before heading out to the river below the dam. Reservoir managers will be giving daily updates this week on the website.
There have been no major accidents or rescues on the river this year, Carter said. The campsites are in good shape, and people are reminded to pack out all trash. In Ponderosa Gorge, some campers have been cutting down trees either to make room for camping or for firewood, but this is not allowed, officials said. While there have been reports of the usual rapid flips and boat wraps, there have been no major accidents or rescues this season.
“We have a strong boating community, and there has been a lot of cooperation,” Carter said.
Wildlife abounds on the Lower Dolores, with multiple sightings of bears, big horn sheep, river otters, beaver, mountain lions, and even a herd of elk swimming across the river.
Record winter snowpack easily filled the 380,000 acre-feet reservoir for farmers, and provided for a 52-day rafting season that initially ended May 25 so the reservoir could be topped off.
Lingering high-mountain snows continue to provide ample runoff that is more than the reservoir can hold, so another release is necessary, explained McPhee Reservoir engineer Ken Curtis.
According to the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, the steady increase of inflows into McPhee may cause rafting releases for another week to ten days below the dam.
To accommodate boaters on multiday trips, ramp-downs for this release will be slower than usual, dropping 100 cfs per day to allow time for boaters to get off the river.