In 1996, the Wyoming Legislature directed the Water Development Commission
and the State Engineer's Office (SEO) to develop a proposal 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 that 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.
During 1997 and 1998, the WWDC conducted the feasibility study, which consisted
of the following components:
- Preparation of a pilot basin plan in the Bear River Basin to test data
collection methods and procedures, new technology, information dissemination,
presentation methods, etc.
- A coordination process to present information on the statewide water planning
process, and to obtain input from interested parties:
- State-wide water issues public opinion survey, with published results.
- Newsletters and news releases to inform the public of river basin planning
- Presentations on water planning to water and resource interest groups
- Development and maintenance of a water planning web page, now accessed
an average of 13,000 times per month.
- Organization of a citizen's Basin Advisory Group in the Bear River Basin
to test public participation methods and lay the groundwork for a plan
in that basin.
- Public open houses in each of the four water divisions to solicit public
comment on the implementation recommendations.
- Contracts for aerial photography and irrigated lands mapping in two river
basins, the Snake/Salt and the Bear, to be used in those basin plans.
- Preparation of a statewide data inventory of water and related resources
information by the Water Resources Data System.
- Contract with a water resources engineering firm to complete an analysis
of the costs and staff requirements for implementation of the statewide
water planning process.
- Development of implementation recommendations and cost estimates.
Following authorization by the 1999 legislature, the Water Development Commission,
in July, 1999, formally established a River Basin Planning section to implement
the statewide water planning process. The first two river basin plans are being
prepared in the Green and Bear River Basins. Consultants were selected to prepare
these basin plans, and a coordination process was implemented to gain input from
individuals and private interest groups, and local, state, and federal agencies.
The Bear River Basin plan is scheduled for completion in October, 2000, and the
Green River Basin plan is scheduled for completion in December, 2000. As products
of the statewide water planning process become available they are published to the
statewide water planning website: http://waterplan.state.wy.us
In order to stay on schedule a request for authorization to begin the next two basins
will be presented to the 2000 legislature. Consultant services for the Powder/Tongue,
and Northeast Wyoming (Little Missouri, Belle Fourche, Cheyenne, and Niobrara) are
estimated to cost $800,000. Those plans will be completed in 2001. River basin plans
will be completed for the entire state by 2004.
RECOMMENDED LEGISLATIVE ACTION:
The Commission recommends that the project be incorporated into the New Development
Program at Level I with an appropriation of $800,000. The WWDC anticipates that
appropriations for consultant services in the other three basins will be requested in
2001, 2002, and 2003.