Pioneer Canal and Laramie River by Tony Bergantino
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Wyoming Water Development Commission Fall 1998

Planning team releases recommendations

In this issue...

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 planning process.

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 contracts.

A complete copy of the recommendations summary is included with this newsletter.

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 requirements."

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 product."

James Crompton, Bear River Commissioner: "The plan must be flexible, adaptable and ongoing to respond to changing conditions in the basin."

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 recommendations.

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 Legislature.

1999 Wyoming Water Planning Process Implementation Recommendations Executive Summary

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