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 feasibility study to determine the
costs and methods of implementing a new water planning process for the state.
This process will generate a descriptive plan for each of the seven major
river basins, and will include a statewide, computer data base that can be
updated as conditions change.
An additional $250,000 for the 1996-97 biennium was included in the WWDC
standard operating budget and earmarked for aerial photography. WWDC elected
to use these funds for aerial photography and irrigated lands mapping in the
Bear and the Snake/Salt Basins. The Bear was selected for verification of
early mapping projects, and the Snake/Salt was selected because no irrigated
lands mapping had been completed for those basins. A portion of these funds
was also contracted to the University of Wyoming Water Resources Data System
for the statewide data inventory and other technical support of the feasibility
During 1997 and 1998, the WWDC conducted the feasibility study, which consisted
of the following components:
- Water Planning Team consisting of senior staff from the Water Development
Commission, the State Engineer's Office and the Water Resources Data System
at the University of Wyoming.
- A scoping group consisting of representatives of state agencies and the
University of Wyoming to advise the Planning Team and coordinate programs.
- A state-wide water issues public opinion survey, with published results.
- Regular newsletters and news releases to keep the public informed of water
- Presentations on water planning to water and resource interest groups statewide.
- Contracts for aerial photography and irrigated lands mapping in two river
basins - Snake/Salt and the Bear River.
- Creation by the Water Resources Data System of a Statewide Data Inventory of
water and related resources information.
- Development and maintenance of a Water Planning Web Page, now accessed by an
average of 7500 users per month.
- Contract with a water resources engineering firm to complete an analysis of
the costs and staff requirements for implementation of basin water planning.
- Organization of a citizens' Basin Advisory Group in the Bear River Basin to
test public participation methods and lay the groundwork for a plan in that
- Development of implementation recommendations and cost estimates.
- Public Open Houses in each of the four water divisions to solicit public
comment on the implementation recommendations.
RECOMMENDED LEGISLATIVE ACTION:
The Commission recommends that the project be incorporated into the New Development
Program at Level II with an appropriation of $1,435,000. Of this amount, $385,000
will be used for first year personnel costs that will be included in the standard
operating budgets of the WWDC and the SEO in the next biennium. $1,050,000 is
earmarked for private sector consultants to complete the basin plans in the Bear
River Basin and the Green River Basin. The WWDC anticipates that appropriations
for consultant services in the other five basins will be requested in 2000, 2001,