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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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 37. PROJECT:Deer Creek Dam and Reservoir
SPONSOR:State of Wyoming
LOCATION:South of Glenrock, Converse County, Wyoming
PROGRAM:New Development
Purpose Chapter Session Account Appropriation Due Date
Level III 52 1984 I $3,000,000 N/A
Level IV 89 1985 I $45,000,000 N/A
Level IV 59 1996 I $15,000,000 N/A
Level IV 81 1999 I $13,500,000 N/A

The Pathfinder Modification Project has been proposed as a less expensive replacement for the Deer Creek Project. The Pathfinder Modification Project will also address Platte River endangered species issues. The estimated construction cost for the Deer Creek Project is $66,000.00. The cost for the Pathfinder Modification Project is less than $5,000.00.

The Pathfinder Modification Project involves increasing the height of Pathfinder Dam by 2.39 feet to recapture 54,000 acre feet of storage space lost to sediment. Twenty thousand (20,000) acre feet of the recaptured space would be allocated to achieve the same municipal water supply benefits as the Deer Creek Dam. The remaining 34,000 acre feet of storage space would serve the federal water contractors in Wyoming and Nebraska and other Wyoming water users by resolving the outstanding Section 7 Endangered Species Act consultation on the federal reservoirs and pending Section 7 consultations of special use permits on forest lands.

The storage space would be allocated as a water supply component to resolve endangered species issues in the North Platte Basin through the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program. While the parameters of the program are still being negotiated, Wyoming's goal in participating in the program is to continue diverting and beneficially using North Platte water by achieving regulatory certainty on issues relating to the recovery of the whooping crane, piping plover, least tern, and pallid sturgeon.

In order to alleviate the impacts of recapturing the 54,000 acre feet and to compensate for the municipal storage account, project funds would also be used to finance both Kendrick and North Platte project irrigator's share of upcoming safety of dams modifications on the federal dams in Wyoming and to resolve the selenium problems at Goose and Rasmus Lee Lakes within the Kendrick Project. While the recaptured space would enjoy the benefits of the 1904 storage right, provisions would be provided to insure that the recaptured space could not place a call on existing non-federal direct flow and storage rights above Pathfinder Reservoir.

In order for the Pathfinder Enlargement to be implemented, the following institutional issues must be resolved:

  1. The Department of Interior must approve the concept and agree to provide the regulatory certainty desired by the state and the water users.

  2. The Governor must approve the project.

  3. The legislature must authorize the use of the Deer Creek funds to participate in the safety of dam modifications, the selenium issues on the Kendrick Project, and enlargement of Pathfinder Dam.

  4. Formal agreements must be negotiated with the Bureau of Reclamation, the affected federal water contractors, and the municipal water users.

  5. The Board of Control must approve a change of use for the recaptured storage space in Pathfinder Reservoir. The State Engineer and legislature must approve the interstate water in the 34,000 acre foot environmental account to transport to Nebraska for endangered species purposes.

  6. Congressional authorization may be required to amend the original purpose of the Pathfinder Dam to include municipal and environmental uses.

  7. NEPA and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act clearances must be achieved.

It is obvious that in order to achieve the above, there must be broad based public support for the project.

With the recovery of storage space under the 1904 Pathfinder water right, the Kendrick Project water rights, which are junior to the Pathfinder water rights, would not come into priority as often. Therefore Kendrick Project irrigators would be adversely impacted. The WWDC hired a consultant to investigate the magnitude of the impact and to evaluate the operations of the Casper-Alcova Irrigation District (The Kendrick Project) for opportunities to conserve or otherwise mitigate these adverse impacts. Phase I was evaluated the impacts and recommended potential mitigation measures. Phase II of the study included conceptual design of selected components for construction. Phase III was an evaluation of technology that might facilitate district and irrigator operations. The Legislature provided funds during the 2002 session to design and to acquire all necessary construction permits and environmental clearances.

No legislative action is required at this time.

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