#Runoff news: McPhee fills, rafting releases next week on the Dolores River

From The Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga):

McPhee Reservoir managers have announced that rafting flows on the Dolores River below the dam will start up again for at least a few days next week.

On Monday, June 5, flows will begin ramping up by 100 cubic feet per second every three hours. By Tuesday noon, flows will be 800 cfs and continue until Thursday or Friday, possibly longer…

Record winter snowpack easily filled the reservoir and provided for a 52-day rafting season that ended May 25 so the reservoir could be topped off. But lingering high-mountain snows continue to provide ample runoff that is more than the reservoir can hold, so another release is necessary.

Curtis said the three-day release could extend to five or longer depending on inflows and weather. Managers will be giving daily updates beginning Monday on the release schedule.

The Colorado Basin River Forecast Center is predicting an increase of inflows into McPhee this weekend. Depending on actual volume, the latest rafting release could be up to a week or 10 days, officials said.

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.

#Drought news: #Colorado is drought free

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:


The USDM week (May 23‐30) was characterized by above normal precipitation across much of the Southeast and Mid‐Atlantic. Soaking rains fell in the eastern half of the country during the first half of the week, providing drought relief in the hardest hit areas of Georgia and northern Florida. By the time the system had moved out on May 27, much of the region had received more than double the rainfall (2 inches or more) of what is typically expected for the week. Drought and dryness continued in the High Plains, parts of the South and much of the Southwest. Temperatures across much of the country were at or below normal for the period. However, the Northwest was 5‐10 degrees above normal…

High Plains

Objective short‐term blends indicated conditions quickly deteriorating in the Dakotas and eastern Montana. Less than one‐half inch of precipitation has fallen (50 percent of normal) during the last 30‐ days and percentiles were in the D1‐D3 range. This prompted the expansion of both D0 and D1 in the area. Based on USDA’s crop progress report released on May 30, North Dakota’s pasture and range conditions are rated 21 percent poor to very poor while its topsoils and subsoils were rated at 36 percent and 23 percent, respectively. South Dakota’s pasture and range conditions are rated 26 percent poor to very poor and subsoils were rated at 38 percent and 39 percent, respectively. Montana’s pasture and range conditions are rated 17 percent poor to very poor while its topsoils and subsoils were rated at 34 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

In Colorado, cooler‐than‐normal temperatures have slowed the snow melt resulting in below average streamflow conditions in the Yampa, White and Colorado Rivers. Streams are particularly sensitive to these patterns as the flows normally begin to peak this time of year. The remaining snowpack across the region remains above normal across the Upper Colorado River Basins and eastern Colorado for this time of year. The small pocket of abnormal dryness in central Colorado is reflective of drier‐than‐normal areas of vegetation and soils…


Temperatures in the West during the last 7 days have generally been 4‐8 degrees above normal. Coolerthan‐ normal temperatures were observed for the central California coast, southeast Idaho and northeast Utah. Drought changes in California remain curbed as the dry season marches on. Further north, D0 was expanded in eastern Montana. Percent of normal precipitation is 5 percent or less in the area during the last 14 and 30 days.

*For details on Colorado and Wyoming, refer to the High Plains region.

Looking Ahead

For days 1‐3 (June 1‐4) the heaviest precipitation will be confined along the Gulf Coast, much of Oklahoma, eastern Missouri and northern Illinois. Parts of Florida are also forecasted to receive 1 inch of rain or more. Meanwhile, temperatures will begin warmer than normal in the West and cooler than normal in the Midwest. The abnormal warmth will quickly spread eastward affecting the Northern Plains on June 2 and the Midwest by June 3. By June 4, much of the CONUS will be warmer than normal with a few exceptions in the Deep South and parts of the Northeast.

According to NOAA’s 6‐10 day outlook, odds are in favor of warmer than normal conditions west of the Rockies, while cooler than normal conditions dominate the east. Odds are in favor of below‐normal precipitation in the Northwest and Midwest while the probability of above‐normal precipitation is high along the eastern seaboard.

@CWCB_DNR: May 2017 #Drought Update

Click here to read the update:

Cool and wet conditions across much of Colorado throughout May have resulted in widespread elimination of drought conditions, abnormally dry conditions are present in Mesa and Park counties and will continued to be monitored. Water providers have no immediate concerns and expect reservoirs to fill. Some crops have been lost as a result of freeze, but will be replanted.

  • Statewide water year- to- date snowpack as of May 25th is at 149% of normal, however this time of year small amounts of snow accumulation can result in large percentile increases. All basins have seen their peak accumulation for the year and begun to melt out.
  • Reservoir storage statewide remains high at 112% of normal and all basins are at or above normal, with the highest storage levels in the Gunnison (126 percent) and the lowest in the Upper Rio Grande (98 percent).
  • While the higher elevations were a bit drier in April (89% of average precipitation), the statewide average April precipitation was 117% of average, primarily due to the large amounts that accumulated at the end of the month in southeast Colorado.
  • Given recent precipitation both streamflow forecasts and the Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI) are expected to rise in the June 1 update.
  • The June-August forecast from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) supports the possible development of an El Nino with more moisture than average through the growing season. The temperature outlook indicates warm conditions in the south and west with equal chances of below, normal and above average temperatures in the east and north.
  • The Flood Threat Bulletin began May 1st and can be found at http://www.coloradofloodthreat.com/
  • Colorado Drought Monitor May 29, 2017.

    Washing machine on wheels rolls into Denver – News on TAP

    Mobile laundry truck taps hydrants to provide clean clothes to Denverites in need.

    Source: Washing machine on wheels rolls into Denver – News on TAP

    Continuously improving? Show us how, eh?! – News on TAP

    A Canadian water utility pays a visit to see Denver Water’s operational efficiencies up close.

    Source: Continuously improving? Show us how, eh?! – News on TAP

    Water and Climate Dominate World Economic Forum Risk Report — @CircleofBlue

    From Circle of Blue (Brett Walton):

    Environmental risks, steadily rising in importance, are recognized as authentic and relentless obstacles to peace, wealth, and health, according to the World Economic Forum’s global risk report, an annual survey of business, academic, and political leaders.

    The report analyzes the strength and likelihood of 30 risks and 13 trends that shape global society. Four of the five environmental risks in the report, all related to climate change and extreme weather, are judged to be large impact and high likelihood threats.

    Water crises, deemed a “societal risk” because of their broad reach, ranked third in the high-impact category, the third consecutive year in the top three. Harsh droughts last year in India, South Africa, and Vietnam slashed farm production and cut hydropower generation. Meanwhile, depletion of India’s groundwater reserves could squeeze long-term economic growth and flush rural residents into already jammed cities. These and other environmental threats to social well-being “are more prominent than ever,” the report states.

    “Over the course of the past decade, a cluster of environment-related risks — notably extreme weather events and failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as water crises — has emerged as a consistently central feature of the risk landscape, strongly interconnected with many other risks, such as conflict and migration,” according to the report.

    Environmental threats, the report notes, are occurring in a world being pulled in two: toward greater income inequality and political polarization, both of which have the potential to undermine the collective action required to address water and climate challenges.

    The rise of environmental risk is a notable development in the report’s 12-year history, says Margareta Drzeniek Hanouz, head of competitiveness and risk at the World Economic Forum. Oil shocks and volatile asset prices, both high-level concerns in the report’s early years, have been replaced at the top by water crises and extreme weather.

    Piñon Project provides kids with rafting opportunity

    Ponderosa Gorge, Dolores River. Photo credit RiverSearch.com.

    From The Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga):

    About a dozen kids from Montezuma and Dolores counties got to experience that adventure thanks to a partnership between the Piñon Project, Dolores River Boating Advocates and the Onward Foundation.

    The May 20 trip down Ponderosa Gorge was organized for youth ages 9 to 17 in the Piñon Project mentoring program, and for many of them, it was a first…

    Mild to Wild rafting gave the group a discount rate, and it was paid for thanks to a grant from the Onward Foundation.

    The goal was to introduce kids to the thrill of rafting and show off the natural wonders of a river in their own backyard, said Amber Clark, program coordinator for the Dolores River Boating Advocates…

    The daylong excursion coincided with Colorado’s First Public Lands Day.

    A guided boating trip down the Lower Dolores was extra special, Lacourciere said, because a run depends on a water release from McPhee reservoir upstream.

    Plus, it was an opportunity for kids to experience an outdoor activity that is often inaccessible for families because of the expense of the boating gear and required river skills.