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Wyoming Water Development Commission 
Harry C. LaBonde, Jr., PE, Director 
6920 Yellowtail Rd, Cheyenne, WY 82002 
Phone: 307-777-7626 

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 60. PROJECT:Hot Springs State Park, Big Springs Study
LEVEL:New Application
SPONSOR:Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources
Division of State Parks and Historical Sites
LOCATION:Hot Springs County

The Big Spring at Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis produces around 2,500 gallons per minute and the thermal characteristics of the water are important considerations for use by the State Park at the State Bath House and by commercial users at Star Plunge, Teepee Pool, Holiday Inn, and Plaza Hotel. The water quality and thermal characteristics are also important in the formation and maintenance of the park's mineral terraces. State Parks personnel distribute flow and maintain all conveyance structures. Previous studies at the hot springs range in subject matter from early USGS reports on the thermal spring phenomena at Thermopolis to a Wyoming Geological Survey study of the overall geohydrothermal system in the Thermopolis anticline (1982), to a present study by Wyoming Department of Agriculture Analytical Services on water chemistry and microorganisms found at the park. A report commissioned by the Board of Charities and Reform (submitted by Simons, Li and Associates in 1983) consisted of a field study at the park and resultant monitoring plans, management plans, and directions for implementation of best alternatives. The overall 1983 plan was designed to improve and modify the existing water delivery system, to improve irrigation of terraces, to ascertain the actual quantities and variability in Big Spring discharge and conveyance system (to users and terraces), and to augment and regulate the supply of water delivered to the terraces and users, depending on monitoring results. Some of the recommendations of the 1983 study were implemented and some were not.

Present problems at the park include, 1) difficulty in delivering adequate cooling water to the Tepee Pool concession, 2) The discharge line from the Star Plunge concession back to the river does not drain properly and backflows onto the streets, 3) Supply to maintain the terraces appears to be dwindling, but without adequate measurement it is difficult to prove where the losses are occurring, and 4) public health concerns for human pathogens are an increasing concern for the park as no chlorination is used.

The Department of State Parks is requesting a WWDC study to specifically determine the following:

  • What volumes of water are presently being used.

  • What volumes of water are needed for safe operation of the public pools and hot tubs.

  • What volumes of water are needed to maintain the terraces.

  • What techniques could be used to measure the delivery of water to all users.

  • What modifications to the delivery system are needed to deliver the appropriate volumes to the various users.

  • What modifications to the drainage system are needed to adequately return water to the Big Horn River.

  • To determine which entities are responsible for maintaining what portions of the delivery system.

  • What written agreements should be developed to specify the amounts of water to be delivered.

  • What kinds of written agreements should be developed to specify who is responsible for the construction and maintenance of various portions of the system.

  • Any other recommendations to help the Division of State Parks determine how to best manage the water from the Big Spring.

The WWDC recommends the project be incorporated in the Rehabilitation program at Level I with an appropriation of $50,000.

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