Basin Advisory Group meets May 18 and begins issue
The Bear River Basin Advisory Group (BAG) met in Evanston
for its fourth monthly meeting and concentrated on issues
identification and prioritization.
The group worked from a matrix of topics, and found that
some issues, such as water quality, touched all present and
future use concerns.
Issues such as water quality, compact allocations, state
water law, and existing water rights are identifiable and
relatively concrete, while open spaces, traditional life
styles, recreational water uses, environmental
concerns and habitat maintenance are extremely difficult to
quantify. Trying to place an economic value on these water
uses is extremely subjective, as is the projection of future
water demands and development impacts.
The group agreed on the desirability of protecting existing
water uses and water rights, while recognizing the restraints
imposed by federal regulations. The Advisory Group urged that
the water planning process be used to foster a true
partnership between the users, the state, and federal agencies
to resolve the issues associated with meeting the requirements
of the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the
Endangered Species Act, and other federal mandates.
TMDL's and the desirability of local input into the
development of standards was stressed, and was the benefit of
putting allocated water to beneficial use.
The group suggested that the water planning process could
identify and evaluate the benefits as well as the impacts of
agricultural use of water.
Storage, conservation, groundwater, coordination of existing
use, and better management were all ways the group suggested
could be considered to meet present and future and possibly
The group agreed to a "homework" assignment to expand the
issues raised in the meeting to the an additional seven issues
identified in the public survey conducted by the WWDC planning
team last year.
The results of this work will be compiled by the planning
team and presented to the Basin Advisory Group for review at
their June meeting.
The group also discussed the possibility of holding an
afternoon and evening meeting in Cokeville in July to finalize
the issues work and consider a format for their
recommendations to the planning team.
The recommendations from the BAG will be integrated with
other products of the on-going feasibility study and will be
come a part of the recommendations for implementation of a
water planning process to the 1999 Session of the Wyoming
UW plans summer field course in the Bear River Basin
The University of Wyoming is sponsoring a five day shortcourse
in water law and administration in the Bear River Basin
for the week of June 22.
The course will feature both class room lectures and field
trips directed at exposing students to both the theoretical
and practical aspects of water law, water use and
administration, and water planning.
Featured speakers will include State Engineer Jeff Fassett,
SEO Division Superintendent Jade Henderson, Bear River
Commissioners Denice Wheeler and John Teichert, UW Law
Professor Mark Squillace, former Casper Star Tribute Editor
Anne MacKinnon, and WWDC water planning project manager Evan
Field trips in the Cokeville area will explore the
interrelationships of day-to-day water administration,
irrigation management, and state water planning issues.
The course is open to anyone. Attorneys, engineers,
teachers and other professionals may receive continuing
education credit for participation. Cost for the full week is
$365, but participants may register for any part of the five
day course at reduced fees.
The registration deadline is June 5, 1998. Anyone
interested in the course
should call 1-800-448-7801 ext. 2 or 307-766-6802.
Water Development Association to meet in Kemmerer June 22-23
The third week in June promises to be a busy time in the
Bear River Basin.
In addition to the WWDC's Basin Advisory Group meeting on
the 22nd, and the UW Bear River Field Course that same week,
the Wyoming Water Development Association (WWDA) will hold
it's summer board meeting in Kemmerer, June 22nd and 23rd.
Starting at 1:00 p.m. on Monday the 22nd, the WWDA board
will hold a business meeting to discuss the Association's
participation in the WWDC water planning feasibility study,
the Annual Meeting and Educational Seminar, and other resource
On Tuesday at 8:00 a.m., the program portion of the Board
Meeting will kick off with a presentation by Evan Green, WWDC
water plan project manager.
Aaron Waller and Barry Lawrence of the Wyoming Water
Resource Center will make a presentation on water planning
technology and water planning programs in other states.
Erin Wilson of Boyle Engineering, whose firm was selected to
assist the state in the water planning feasibility study, will
discuss the role of private sector consultants in that effort.
Mike O'Grady, Jack Meana, and Frank Carr of States West
Water Resources will discuss their work on applying water
planning technology to assist the Smith's Fork Irrigation
District. Joe and Jim Buckley, president and secretary of the
District, will also be present to answer questions.
Jack Smith of the Lander Office of the Wyoming Department of
Environmental Quality will discuss TMDLs in the Bear River
Basin and the potential for interagency cooperation to address
that issue locally.
Representatives of the Wyoming Water Coalition, a group
representing agricultural water users, will be present to
discuss protecting agricultural interests through the water
WWDC Mike Besson will close the meeting at 11:30 with his
projections about water planning and water development in the
The WWDA meeting will be held in the Fossil Country Museum
at 400 Pine Avenue in Kemmerer. Both the Monday and Tuesday
sessions are open to the public.
Call the Water Development Association at 307-635-2947 for
Water Resource Center to close June 30, some programs continue
Water Resources Center
In the 1998 legislative session, the Wyoming Legislature
voted to remove from the Water Development Commission budget a
line item of $1.7 million to fund the Wyoming Water Resources
Center (WWRC) for the next biennium. This amount represents
a substantial portion of the "hard money" funding for the
Center, and had been used in the past to leverage additional
grants and soft money from other sources.
This funding for the Water Resource Center had been one of
the "non-project" appropriations from the Water Development
Account. Other "non-project" items include the North Platte
Lawsuit, the Water Division III adjudication, and the
operating budgets of the State Engineer's Office and the Water
Development Commission. In 1998, about $1,000,000 was
appropriated from the Account to fund efforts by DEQ and state
Conservation Districts to respond to TMDL mandates under the
Clean Water Act. (See the article on TMDLs in this
newsletter). About 15% of the expenditures from the Water
Development Account since 1980 have been in the non project
At their May 8-9 meeting, Trustees of the University
approved a plan to submitted by President Phil DuBois to close
the WWRC, effective June 30, 1998. The plan does include
provisions to fulfill existing center contracts beyond the
closing, and to transfer some of the center capabilities to
other University departments.
The Water Center has been an important part of the water
planning feasibility study now underway, and was projected to
be a key component of the new water planning process under
evaluation. The center has provided a full-time staff person
to assist Water Development Commission planners, has provided
advice and assistance, and helped coordinate the statewide
water planning questionnaire which was sent to nearly 2000
The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Water
Resource Data Systems (WRDS) units at the Water Center had
recently completed an inventory of water data in the state.
This statewide data inventory will be used in the feasibility
study to evaluate available resources and estimate costs
associated with basin planning in Wyoming. GIS and WRDS
technical capabilities were set to be an integral part of
collection, storage and management of water data in the water
GIS activities at the University of Wyoming will now be
housed in the Spatial Data and Visualization Center (SDVC).
The SDVC had been a partner to the WWRC in the past, sharing
computer hardware and technical staff. Existing Water Center
GIS contracts that extend beyond June 1998 will be completed
in the SDVC. The SDVC is also set to become the University's
leading GIS research unit on campus. The unit will be involved
in biological and geological as well as water related research
and will be supervised under the Office of Research.
Also as part of the plan, the WRDS unit will now be
supervised under the Department of Civil and Architectural
Engineering, headed by Dr. Victor Hasfurther. Dr. Hasfurther
is currently the State Climatologist and is a former Water
Center Associate Director. WRDS is expected to continue its
excellent service to agencies and the public as a water data
The Water Resources Data System began in conjunction with
the Water Planning program back in 1968. It will continue to
assist the Water Development Commission in the current water
planning effort. The full time University Research Scientist
working on the planning feasibility study will be housed with
the WRDS unit through 1999.
Water Planning information management will continue to
involve technical units at the University of Wyoming. Over the
last few decades, the State has made an investment in water
information technology and plans on using existing facilities
to the greatest extent possible in the water planning process.
In this way, existing WRDS databases and technical GIS
capabilities can be used to develop the information necessary
for current river basin water planning.
TMDLs emerge as issue of concern to state water users
Water Quality Division
Department of Environmental Quality
A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is the amount of pollutant
which a stream can accept and still meet its beneficial uses.
TMDL's must be established for each pollutant which is a
source of stream impairment. They must be measurable and must
consider both point and nonpoint source pollutant loads,
natural background conditions, and a margin of safety.
Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires states to:
1) Identify all waters of the state which are impaired--i.e.
they contain pollutants which adversely affect the beneficial
use of the water.
2) Prioritize all impaired waterbodies for development of
TMDL's. Prioritization is to take into consideration public
health and environmental risk. Therefore, point source
discharges generally are a higher priority than nonpoint
sources of clean sediment.
3) Establish and adopt TMDL's for all impaired waterbodies.
If a state does not comply with Section 303(d), the
Environmental Protection Agency is required to perform these
Every two years, the state must evaluate its water quality
data, and submit an updated impaired waterbody list to the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval. This list
is generated from the Statewide Water Quality Assessment (also
known as the 305(b) Report) which also must be submitted every
two years. Due to the lack of water quality data available,
the Water Quality Division began using surveys in 1990 to
determine stream status. These surveys were sent to
Conservation Districts, U.S. Forest Service, BLM, Game and
Fish, etc. The "professional judgement" of these entities was
utilized to place streams on the impaired waterbody list (also
known as the 303(d) list). In addition to waters which are
actually impaired, the state must list those waters for which
a TMDL will be established within the next two years.
Therefore, the state also lists streams which have discharge
permits due for renewal and which require a wasteload
allocation (approximately 150 of the state's facilities with
discharge permits have wasteload allocations).
The state has provided public notice and has submitted the
303(d) list to EPA, as required by the Clean Water Act, since
1990. Since the early 1980's the state has established TMDL's
for point source discharges, where necessary, to achieve in-
stream beneficial uses. We anticipate that approximately 5%
of these dischargers may be affected by nonpoint source
contributions of similar pollutants (such as fecal coliforms
or ammonia). In 1989, the State adopted a Nonpoint Source
Management Plan to address nonpoint sources of pollution.
Under this voluntary program, the state provides Clean Water
Act Section 319 funds to local entities for projects which
address nonpoint source pollution. Many of these projects,
though never formally adopted as a TMDL, contain all the
components of a TMDL. DEQ anticipates that the major impact
of TMDL's will be on activities which occur on federal lands.
On December 9, 1996, Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, on
behalf of Wyoming Outdoor Council, Biodiversity Associates,
and American Wildlands, filed a lawsuit in Denver Federal
Court to require Region VIII EPA to implement the TMDL program
in Wyoming. The litigants claim that the state has not
adequately monitored its streams, has not listed all impaired
streams, and has not developed sufficient point or nonpoint
source TMDL's. The EPA filed for, and was granted, a change
of venue. The case is assigned to the federal court in
Casper. The Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts has
intervened in the lawsuit. Suits involving twenty-eight
states are in some stage of litigation and settlement over
Although the state has not intervened, DEW is attempting
to respond to the issues brought forth by the litigants.
Three positions have been added to the watershed
management unit to assist with TMDL's, and a workplan has been
submitted to EPA. The state's workplan establishes a five-
year timeframe for monitoring streams on the 1996 303(d) list
and a ten-year schedule for adopting TMDL's on those streams
with credible data indicating TMDL's need to be established.
Four additional staff positions will hired in July, 1998 to
assist the state in performing the necessary monitoring and
developing TMDL's in cooperation with local stakeholders.
The state has established a workgroup to assist and make
recommendations to the agency on implementation of the
workplan, future 303(d) lists, and listing criteria and
priorities. The 1998 draft list contains: those waterbodies
which have adequate data to determine non-support of
beneficial uses, waterbodies which have point source permits
with wasteload allocations due for reissuance in the next two
years, and waterbodies where nonpoint source projects are
currently addressing the sources of pollution. Those streams
which were on the 1996 list but do not meet the above criteria
for the new 1998 list were proposed for delisting where
adequate data exists to show beneficial use support. Those
streams with insufficient data will be monitored some time
during the next five years to determine whether they should or
should not be listed. A public notice was issued on the 1998
303(d) list on December 22, 1997. The comment period closed
February 6, 1998. The DEQ responded to comments received and
evaluated and analyzed supplemental data which was submitted
prior to finalizing the 1998 list. The list was submitted to
EPA for approval on March 30,1998. EPA has 30 days in which
to approve or disapprove the state's submittal.
The state will work with EPA and with local, state and
federal agencies to monitor water quality in the state, and
where needed, to establish workable, implementable TMDL's.
The 1996 303(d) list contained 366 stream segments. The
proposed 1998 list consists of the following:
- 14 waterbodies with credible data indicating impairment
- 29 waterbodies which have permits with wasteload allocations due for renewal.
- 20 waterbodies with credible nonpoint source threats.
- 33 waterbodies with credible data to delist-- they are meeting their beneficial uses.
- 335 waterbodies about which there is insufficient credible data to know whether they should be listed or not.
Questions concerning TMDL issues should be directed to the
Water Quality Division of DEQ, at 307-777-7781.