Largest Morrow Point Dam Spilling In Decades

Jun 9, 2014

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison receives water from the Morrow Point Dam.
Credit J. Schwartz

For the first time in thirty years all four gates at the Morrow Point Dam are open. 

The Morrow Point Dam is between the Blue Mesa Dam and Crystal Point Dam on the Gunnison River.

The dams are part of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Aspinall Unit. The last time all four gates at Morrow Point were open was 1984, a major flood year, according to the federal agency. 

Justyn Hock, a BOR spokeswoman, said although 2014 has been a wet year so far the bureau has the gates open as part of the 2012 Aspinall Record of Decision. The decision requires the bureau to create "higher and more natural downstream spring flows" to benefit endangered species of fish.

"What we're trying to do with these releases [is]...flush out the river bottom… [in an effort] to clean up the habitat for endangered fish," Hock said. 

She said people can see Morrow Point Dam spilling from Cimarron parking lot on U.S. Highway 50 east of Montrose.