After considerable time and trouble the project is under construction. The following paragraphs give
a brief project history and update. For a more detailed description of the project history please refer
to the 1999 and 2000 WWDC Legislative Report.
The original project known as the Sandstone project proposed to impound 52,000 acre-feet of water.
The facility would have provided supplemental municipal and agricultural water, recreation, and
flood control. Also the project would have included water for industrial purposes and hydropower.
The estimated cost of the project was $70,000,000.
In 1979, the legislature enacted WS 41-2-204, which defined the Stage I, II, and III Projects, as well
as "in-basin needs". The Wyoming legislature in 1980 directed the WWDC to ".... study the
feasibility of constructing in the Little Snake River drainage above the confluence of the river and
Savery Creek, a reservoir of at least 3,000 acre feet, the reservoir shall satisfy immediate in-basin
agricultural, recreational, and municipal needs and shall promote in-basin water purity. In 1984, the
legislature included in the WWDC project budget request criteria for a project in the Little Snake
River basin. The intent was to mitigate and alleviate any water supply shortages caused by
Cheyenne Stages I and II projects.
WWDC initiated the Sandstone dam Section 404 permitting process through the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers (Corps) in 1984. The reservoir would have a firm yield of 32,000 acre-feet.
Approximately 12,000 acre-feet for irrigation and 20,000 acre feet for future industrial development.
WWDC requested construction funding for Sandstone dam in 1987 but the funding was denied. The
legislature appropriated $5,000,000 toward construction of the Sandstone project in 1988 and also in
1989. In 1988, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was prepared and published for the
Sandstone Dam and Reservoir Project. The Final EIS was never completed. The Corps unofficially
informed the WWDC that Sandstone Dam and Reservoir could not be permitted. In 1990, the Corps
denied the permit "without prejudice" because of the undefined allocation of 20,000 acre-feet. The
Corps suggested that, as an alternate, the project be downsized.
The legislature in 1991 appropriated $400,000 of the $10,000,000 for a study of alternative reservoir
sites in the Little Snake River basin that would be competitive with the Sandstone site. More than 20
alternative reservoir sites were identified and assessed.
This study concluded that a smaller dam to store 23,000 acre-feet was feasible at the Sandstone site.
The Savery Little Snake Water Conservancy District determined that the smaller Sandstone
alternative was their preferred alternative. The legislature in 1993 appropriated an additional
$20,400,000 for the downsized Sandstone dam and reservoir. This appropriation brought the total
appropriation to $30,000,000.
In 1994, WWDC began preparation of a second EIS for the Sandstone site and alternatives. The
Sandstone site was the preferred alternative. In August 1995, the Corps told WWDC that
preliminary studies indicated there were several less environmentally damaging alternatives than the
Sandstone alternative, which would provide the late season irrigation water supply. Dutch Joe
appeared to be the least damaging alternative.
However, studies to this point indicated that it would take multiple reservoirs to provide the same
water yield as the Sandstone alternative. Residents of the Little Snake River Valley voted to
continue pursuing the Sandstone alternative in December 1995. Hydrology studies conducted in
1996 indicated that Dutch Joe and High Savery dams could be enlarged and meet the project need
individually (i.e., with either of these alternatives there was not a need for multiple reservoirs). In
November 1996, the Corps indicated, based on what was known at that time, the Sandstone
alternative was not permitable. As a result of this meeting, the direction of the project and EIS
The legislature in 1997 amended the authorization for the project from "Sandstone Dam and
Reservoir Project" to "Little Snake River Valley Dam and Reservoir Project". This provided a
broader definition of what could be considered mitigation for Cheyenne Stages I and II. The Stage
III Project was dropped. In July 1998, the WWDC submitted a Section 404 Permit application for the
High Savery Dam and Reservoir alternative. In August 1998, the Draft EIS for the Little Snake
Supplemental Irrigation Water Supply Project was published. The High Savery alternative was the
WWDC preferred alternative. WWDC contracted with States West Water Resources Corp. to begin
design of the High Savery Dam in August 1999. The Final EIS was published in October 1999.
The Section 404 permit and record of decision were issued December 20, 2000. The Bureau of Land
Management issued the right-of ways for roads and facilities and the State Land and Investment
Board granted a permanent easement for the dam and facilities in early 2001. This completed the
permitting process for the project.
On May 22, 2001, bids were opened. The low bidder was Ames Construction of Burnsville
Minnesota, with a bid of $22,685,000. Notice to proceed was issued on June 22, 2001. Actual
construction started soon thereafter.
During 2001, the contractor's effort has been in excavation of the south abutment, construction of the
outlet works and construction of wetlands. Winter shutdown occurred on November 27, 2001.
Expenditures as of the end of December 2001 are $2,696,292 or approximately 10% of the project.
The contractor plans to begin work again in the spring of 2002 as soon as access to the project can be
RECOMMENDED LEGISLATIVE ACTION:
No legislature action required.