New staff would finish seven basins in five to seven years
The state water planning team, consisting of staff from the Water
Development Commission (WWDC), the State Engineer's Office (SEO), and
the Water Resources Data System (WRDS), have released the team's
recommendations for the initial implementation of statewide water
The recommendations call for completion of the first cycle of
basin planning in five to seven years. Three new staff at the WWDC,
one at the SEO, and one at WRDS would implement the public
involvement process that proved so successful in the Bear River Pilot
Study, and supervise the activities of consulting firms under
contract to complete data accumulation for individual basin plans.
The new staff will cost about $300,000 annually, and $3.7 million
will be requested by the WWDC over the next five years for consultant
A complete copy of the recommendations summary is included with
Public meetings scheduled for input on planning process
The WWDC/SEO/UW Planning Team has scheduled a series of four "open
houses" to receive public comments on the recommendations inclosed
with this newsletter.
The meetings will be held in the following locations:
There will be a brief formal presentation at 4:30 p.m. and 6:00
p.m. at each location.
- Monday, October 5: Rock Springs at the White Mountain
Library, 2935 Sweetwater Drive.
- Tuesday, October 6: Washakie County Extension Office,
116 South 11th in Worland.
- Wednesday, October 7: Gillette City Hall Council
Chambers at 201 East 5th.
- Thursday, October 8: Douglas City Hall Council
Chambers at 101 North 4th.
According to WRDS Research Scientist and planning team coordinator
Aaron Waller, the meetings will be very informal and will allow
people interested in the planning process to ask questions and
provide comments directly to members of the planning team.
"We will have computer access to the Statewide Data Inventory and
to the Water Planning Web Page", Waller said. "We will also have
informational handouts and displays on various aspects of water
planning. Team members will be available to answer questions about
topics such as Geographic Information Systems, irrigated lands
mapping with aerial photographs, and the applicability of water
planning technology to individual users," he continued.
Bear River Basin Advisory Group completes work
The final meeting of the Bear River Basin Advisory Group (BAG) in
the pilot feasibility study was held on August 17. The group will
be called back to duty if funds are appropriated to complete the Bear
River Basin plan.
At the August meeting, the group reviewed a final draft of the
BAG's work over the past eight months.
The group was selected by citizens of Uinta and Lincoln counties at
a public meeting in January to represent agriculture, municipal,
industrial, recreational and environmental interests. The BAG met
monthly to identify issues of concern to water interest groups in
the Bear River Basin, and to develop a template for advisory groups
to use when the planning process moves to other basins.
WWDC Water Planning Project Manager Evan Green said he is pleased
with the work completed by the group. Green said, "I believe we
proved that people with different and perhaps conflicting interests
can sit down and identify common goals. We certainly didn't solve
all the water problems in the basin, but we did create a strong local
forum where resource issues can be addressed," he continued.
The report of the Basin Advisory Group will be a part of the
supporting documentation submitted to the Legislature in 1999.
Basin Advisory Group endorses public involvement
The 15 member Basin Advisory Group endorsed the public
participation portion of the pilot study in the Bear River.
Following are quotes from Advisory Group members:
Alan Burton, Mayor of Cokeville: "The planning process will help
create synthesis. Our goal must be to avoid polarization of local
people over water and resource issues."
Mike Sims, Rancher: "The plan should strengthen Wyoming: agriculture,
tourism, mining, manufacturing. The interests of all water users
groups should be put together in the planning process. We should
determine the best possible use of the water we have, and do a better
job of managing it. The plan also has to address the influence of
the federal government, and help local users meet federal
Eric Heltzel, Environmental Representative: "The legislative view is
likely to be narrow in focus and scope. The water planning proposal
should be couched to take a balance look at all user groups, and not
foster an 'us verses them' approach. State interests must come
first. The process must allow time for local groups to work, and
there must be fair representation by local people."
Dennis Cornelison, Uinta County Conservation District: "The plan
has to deal with managing shortages. If there isn't any water in the
river, there isn't anything for user groups to fight over. The plan
should be a tool for law makers to use in sharing a scarce resource."
Gordon Park, Bear River Inc. "The plan must be a constructive
document, not a road block. It must be an entire package, and not be
used by one party against another. I believe we have an acceptable
James Crompton, Bear River Commissioner: "The plan must be flexible,
adaptable and ongoing to respond to changing conditions in the
Craig Lowham, Bear River Rancher: "The best thing the planning
process can do is encourage communication among interest groups. We
need to put issues on the table locally before outsiders do. If I
have to take cows off my allotment, I'd rather hear that from my
neighbors than from the federal government."
Dan Martin, Proxy for Aaron Martin, Uinta County Commissioner: "The
plan needs to be proactive, we need to get our ducks in a row. We
need to have data that allows us to act rather than respond. And we
need a group of local citizens organized to set local priorities.
The plan should enable a discussion of issues based on facts."
Report from feasibility consultant under staff review
Early in the water planning feasibility study process, the team
selected a consulting team headed by Boyle Engineering to determine
the costs of implementing a water planning process appropriate to
Wyoming's needs and fiscal resources.
The draft of that report was delivered to the WWDC in early
August, and forms the basis of the budget section of the attached
When the planning team review is completed, Boyle will generate
the final report.
Boyle's final report, along with the report on the public survey,
the Basin Advisory Group report, and the interest group white papers
will constitute the supporting documentation for the recommendation
package to be delivered to the 1999 session of the Wyoming