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A Political Theorist
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Discussion Starter #1
While casting for smallies on McPhee a couple years ago I noticed quite a bit of new bank erosion.

Query: Is bank erosion widening the water prison and creating a larger capacity than reported or allowed?

Bonus Query: At which level would Dante put the McPhee prison guards for stealing water from the starved fish and wild life trying to emerge each spring from the lower Dolores?
 

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Unfortunately, the plug on the Dolores just traps sediment that slowly raises the lakebed thus decreasing water capacity creating a more shallow body of water that evaporates at a higher rate. Regarding the "prison guards", I would be happier if they went back to school and learned a bit more about hydrology and watershed management. Perhaps boaters, wildlife and other downstream users would then get accurate flow projections instead of a damn that is operated for local agriculture first and foremost.
 

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Speaking of the Delores, which most of the Colorado snowpack in the southwest corner, could this be the year to plan a May Delores?
 

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This year's snowfall in SW Colorado has been unusual. We live at 7660' elevation, and our snowfall hasn't been significantly greater than Durango's at 6512' or significantly less than Durango Mtn Resort's at 8793'. This is pretty atypical. The upshot? There's a LOT more low-elevation snow this year, and it's all gonna melt and run. The NRCS Snotel graphs don't show that.
 

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Rich, I am not yelling at you for spelling it incorrectly...I have made the same mistake once or twice myself; but it is the Dolores River. That river is truly legendary. The maiden in one Dolores legend is surely crying her forgiving tears for us due to our sin of constructing McFee Damn.
 

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Interesting comment on the lower snow elevation snow pack. Here in Moab and especially the Cisco desert, there is more snow than I can remember seeing since I started spending winters here in 1993.
 

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Interesting comment on the lower snow elevation snow pack. Here in Moab and especially the Cisco desert, there is more snow than I can remember seeing since I started spending winters here in 1993.
All this lower elevation snow in SW Colorado is going to bring free-flowing rivers up early, and will certainly help to fill the reservoirs that feed the dam-controlled rivers. Obviously this doesn't show up in the Snotel graphs since the Snotel measuring sites are up high, but I gotta assume that it's factored in to reservoir fill projections and release schedules. I'm curious what Rivermanryan has to say about it.
 

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I live in the Dolores Valley and I can say that what Steve said about the low elevation snow in the Animas drainage has held true over here on the last couple storms. The big bomber storms of December dumped big over here and the Animas didn't get as much. I think the Scotch Creek site was around 140% of average on Jan 1. Things have evened out between the basins now though. We are still at 102% I think.

I think the Dolores will run this year but don't expect a long spill. The lake was sucked very low last fall and it will take a lot more to fill it. I'm planning on making a Rico to Moab trip (w/ McPhee portage) this year as soon as they spill. I think long term the new shale development and it's water demands will be the end of river running on the lower Dolores.
 

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A Political Theorist
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Discussion Starter #11
Unfortunately, the plug on the Dolores just traps sediment that slowly raises the lakebed thus decreasing water capacity creating a more shallow body of water that evaporates at a higher rate.
aaah. I had missed that the volume of the silt coming in would continually raise the lake level if the pool remained the same.

Wreckthenation must be staying busy documenting the human remains and artifacts being undercut each year by this slow spread.
 

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LowSnow

D.S. is correct; there is a Ton of snow at 5000-6000' in the Dolores catchment, keep your schedule loose early April. And it is weird; Durango West is getting more snow out of every storm than Purg & Coal Bank.
 

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Kjirsten
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I think long term the new shale development and it's water demands will be the end of river running on the lower Dolores.
That's the most depressing thing I've heard all Winter. It really will be the River of Sorrows...

With this season's low elevation snow pack, I would look for it to run earlier. Some of us ran Bradfield to SlickRock in March in 2008 with a good 1k. That year was similar...
 

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With this season's low elevation snow pack, I would look for it to run earlier. Some of us ran Bradfield to SlickRock in March in 2008 with a good 1k. That year was similar...[/QUOTE]

2008 the month of February saw the snowpack hold at 150% right now its at 100% a lot of the low elevation snow is to the south and wont even flow into McPhee which is already sitting at a lower then normal lake elevation. Couple that with our good friends sitting in the Cortez/Salt Lake office and I'd say we'll be lucky to have a week or two of boatable spill. and then when/if they decided to spill we won't even know about it until the day before they open the gates. It's still status quo nobody knows on the Dolores. At least with all the moisture on the reservations we wont see the dust storms that helped trash most of last season. We still need that high elevation snow.
 

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Reservoir operations are based primarily on the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center's (www.cbrfc.noaa.gov) inflow forecasts, issued twice a month. The most probable forecast is a coordinated forecast between CBRFC and NRCS (the SNOTEL guys). The CBRFC's model should account for low elevation snow and soil moisture. I think the low soil moisture sitting under the snowpack is most critical to the amount of runoff seen from low elevation snow. This is similar to 2008 when there was little soil moisture due to a very dry fall (and this fall was drier). I remember thinking that the Animas was going to run early in 2008 with the low snowpack, but it never really happened.

For the last couple years, the McPhee Operations has been the responsibility of the water district and not Reclamation. However, Reclamation is still involved in the process.

I don't do the operations for McPhee, but if you have questions about the current hydrologic conditions and operations in the San Juan Basin, feel free to contact me at 970-385-6590 (direct) or rchristianson "at" usbr "dot" gov
 

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Ryan - thanks for the clarification. I was hopin' all this low snow was going to make a difference...
 

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At least with all the moisture on the reservations we wont see the dust storms that helped trash most of last season. We still need that high elevation snow.

I would venture to say....The quicker the snow melts off the better as far as them opening the gates on McPhee. Once the reservoir gets full, If the snow comes off faster than the irrigation water can be pumped out....it spills! If it is a slow or roller coaster melt than they can keep the pumping operations up close to the input level and they won't spill enough to run it. I think a quick melt probably equals more boatable days on the lower Dolores. Max two weeks. If anyone wants to get in on a Rico to Moab trip when she spills...PM me.
 

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Kjirsten
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The low-altitude snowmelt is interesting this year. The Florida River in my backyard is running around 50 cfs right now... while the gauge below Lemon (3 miles upstream) is showing 9.7 cfs. There's only Trew Creek coming in between here and the dam... and countless little seasonal streams pumping in snowmelt.
 

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Kjirsten
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The low-altitude snowmelt is interesting this year. The Florida River in my backyard is running around 50 cfs right now... while the gauge below Lemon (3 miles upstream) is showing 9.7 cfs. There's only Trew Creek coming in between here and the dam... and countless little seasonal streams pumping in snowmelt.
This is the earliest I've seen the Piedra runnable too- and all the way down there are rivulets of water streaming into the river. The waterfall at the top is cranking. Very interesting run off.
 
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