Under existing legislation, the Wyoming Water Development Commission
(WWDC) is responsible for water and land related resource planning for
the State of Wyoming (WS 41-2-112). These water planning
responsibilities are further defined and clarified in WS 41-2-108
through 110 and WS 42-2-114.
In 1996, the Wyoming Legislature directed the Water Development
Commission and the State Engineer's Office (SEO) to develop a report for
updating the state's Framework Water Plan, which was written in the
early 1970's and published in 1973. WWDC and the SEO prepared and
submitted a proposal to the Governor and the Select Water Committee in
October of 1996. During the 1997 Legislative Session, $250,000 was
appropriated from the Water Development Account #1 to enable the WWDC to
conduct a water plan feasibility study. The purpose of this study is to
determine the appropriate issues to be addressed by a new water planning
process, and the costs associated with implementing a basin by basin,
state-wide, computer-based water planning process with a data base that
could be updated as conditions change.
During 1997, the WWDC conducted the first phase of the feasibility
study, which focused on two important aspects of water planning: public
involvement in the planning process, and evaluation of data available
for planning purposes.
To facilitate coordination with state government, a scoping group was
established representing various state agencies and the University of
Wyoming. A contract was executed with the Wyoming Water Resource Center
(WWRC)for staff and technical assistance. The WWRC in turn obtained the
services of the Survey Research Center (SRC) to assist in the
development of state-wide public participation in the feasibility study.
With the input of the Scoping Group and the SRC, an issues
identification questionnaire was developed. An initial mailing list of
over 3,780 was created, and these individuals received a letter
requesting their assistance in the water planning issue identification.
Just over 1,775 people who responded to the initial letter, or who were
nominated to participate, received a ninety-item questionnaire. A total
of 1,399 completed questionnaires were returned and processed.
The results of the analysis of the responses was mailed to the 1,775
initial respondents in mid January, 1998. The analysis will be used to
guide water planning activities in the second phase of the project, and
will serve as the WWDC's required report of water planning activities to
the 1998 session of the Legislature.
In addition to activities related to the questionnaire, the WWDC has
distributed several news releases to the media and to interest group
newsletters. A water plan newsletter detailing water planning
activities was completed and mailed to 1,775 individuals in December of
1997. WWDC and WRC staff members gave presentations on the water
planning process to a variety of organizations such as the Wyoming Stock
Growers, Wool Growers, Water Development Association, Wyoming
Association of Conservation Districts, Wyoming Association of
Municipalities, the Wyoming Professional Engineers Association, the
American Water Resources Association and others.
The second aspect of the first phase of the feasibility study also
involved the WWRC. The Center was directed by the WWDC to develop an
inventory of water and related land resource data. This inventory is
underway, and will be completed in the first quarter of 1998.
The second phase of the feasibility study, scheduled for 1998, will
include the preparation of a prototype basin plan in the Bear River
basin of western Wyoming. A consulting firm with aerial mapping
experience is currently under contract to acquire satellite imagery for
use in updating irrigated lands mapping in the Wyoming portion of the
Bear River basin. The first steps have been taken to establish a basin
RECOMMENDED LEGISLATIVE ACTION:
No legislative action is required.