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
- The Department of Interior must approve the concept and agree to provide the regulatory
certainty desired by the state and the water users.
- The Governor must approve the project.
- 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
- Formal agreements must be negotiated with the Bureau of Reclamation, the affected
federal water contractors, and the municipal water users.
- 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.
- Congressional authorization may be required to amend the original purpose of
the Pathfinder Dam to include municipal and environmental uses.
- 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
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.
RECOMMENDED LEGISLATIVE ACTION:
No legislative action is required at this time.