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 statewide computer database that will be
updated as conditions change.
During 1997 and 1998, the WWDC conducted the feasibility study, which consisted of the following
- 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:
- Statewide water issues public opinion survey, with published results.
- Newsletters and news releases to inform the public of River Basin Planning activities.
- 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 29,000 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 was
completed in January 2001. Products of the Statewide Water Planning Process are published on 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. Basin Advisory Groups were formed in those basins, and the
consultant is scheduled to complete those plans in January 2002.
The 2001 Legislature authorized river basin plans to be prepared for the Wind/Bighorn and
Snake/Salt River Basins. Basin Advisory Groups have been formed in those basins, and the
consultants are underway, with those reports scheduled for completion in January 2003.
In order to stay on schedule a request for authorization to begin the final basin plan, the Platte, would
need to be submitted to the 2002 Legislature. Unfortunately, the Attorney General's office has
requested the WWDC to postpone preparation of the Platte basin plan for one year to allow them to
finish implementation of the North Platte Lawsuit settlement agreement. WWDC has agreed to this
postponement, which will delay completion of the Platte basin plan and the Framework Plan by one
year. It will also set back initiation of the basin updates by one year.
The WWDC anticipates that an appropriation for consultant services for the North Platte River Basin
Plan will be requested in 2003. Following completion of all seven river basin plans and the
framework plan 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:
Based on the request by the Attorney General's office to delay the Platte basin plan, the WWDC
recommends the request for authorization to begin the Platte basin plan be postponed for one year,
therefore no legislative action is required at this time.