In 1996, the Wyoming Legislature directed the Wyoming Water Development Commission
(WWDC) 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 Water Development Account
I 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 generates a descriptive plan
for each of the seven major river basins, and includes a state-wide computer database that will be
updated as conditions change.
During 1997 and 1998, the WWDC conducted the feasibility study, which consisted of the
- Preparation of a pilot Basin Plan in the Bear River Basin to test data collection methods and
procedures, new technology, information dissemination methods, presentation methods, etc.
- A coordination process to present information on the proposed 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 statewide.
- Development and maintenance of a Water Planning Web Page, currently accessed
an average of 24,000 times per month
- 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 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 were initiated 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 was completed in November, 2000, and the Green River
Basin Plan will be completed in January, 2001. Products of the Statewide Water Planning Process
are published to the Water Planning website at: http://waterplan.state.wy.us
The 2000 Legislature authorized river basin plans to be prepared for the Powder/Tongue and
Northeast Wyoming River Basins. The two Basin Advisory Groups are formed and working in
those basins, and consultants are underway on the plans. Both plans are scheduled for completion
in December 2001.
In order to stay on schedule a request for authorization to begin the next two basins will be
presented to the 2001 Legislature. Consultant services for the Wind/Bighorn and Snake/Salt River
Basins are estimated to cost $1,550,000. Those plans will be completed in December 2002, and
pending completion of the North Platte River Basin plan, river basin plans for the entire state will
be completed in December 2003. Following completion of the plans in each of the state's seven
basins the process of updating the plans will begin. Each river basin plan will be updated on
approximately a five year interval to maintain the accuracy and usefulness of the data.
The WWDC anticipates that an appropriation for consultant services for the North Platte River
Basin Plan will be requested in 2002. Following completion of all seven river basin plans it is
anticipated that the update process will begin, and smaller funding requests will be submitted to the
legislature in subsequent sessions.
RECOMMENDED LEGISLATIVE ACTION:
The Commission recommends that the project be incorporated into the Rehabilitation Program at
Level I with an appropriation of $1,550,000.