Dolores River Release

Dolores River Release

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This year’s high snowfall numbers created an exciting opportunity in the Dolores River Basin. The high-water amounts in McPhee Reservoir allowed for an overflow release. This release put an additional 200,000 acre feet of water into the river, restoring the lifeblood to the community. The way the water was released from the dam allowed for management in a way that maximized the benefits for both people and nature.

A release of this magnitude had not happened for nearly a decade and allowed the river to run full, and “return to life.” This release was also unique from any in the past because it truly benefited all stakeholders and the entire community.

In anticipation of the possibility of an event like this happening, The Nature Conservancy and partners designed hydrographs to maximize the benefit of a release to improve habitat for the sensitive, native warm water fisheries, provide opportunities for recreational rafting and kayaking and meet the needs of water users within the community.

This release offered a first-ever opportunity to test the hydrographs and to monitor how the warm water native fisheries and ecosystems below McPhee Dam responded to the additional water, as well as allowed rafters to access portions of the Dolores River that are not typically available for rafting.


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