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Wyoming Water Development Commission Winter 1999

Governor signs HB93,
Water Planning Launched

In this issue...

Green River and Bear River Basins to be focus of first efforts

With the stroke of a pen, Governor Jim Geringer initiated the first statewide basin water planning process in almost three decades.

Not since the early 1970's has the State of Wyoming had a full-time staff working solely on water planning.

The Green and Bear River basins will be the focus of the first two plans. All seven basins will be finished by 2004.

The resulting Water Resources Database will install a technologically advanced and comprehensive water planning process for Wyoming.

WWDC starts consultant selection process for basin plans

The 1999 Legislature approved just over a million dollars for consultant contracts to complete Basin Plans for the Bear River and the Green River basins. The Water Development Commission (WWDC) has short listed 5 firms for the Bear and 6 for the Green. Requests for proposals were mailed out on March 10.

The short listed firms for the Bear River basin plan are Forsgren Associates of Evanston, Johnson Fermelia of Rock Springs, Nelson Engineering of Jackson, Sunrise Engineering of Afton, and Western Water Consultants of Laramie.

The short listed firms for the Green River basin plan are Banner Associates of Laramie, Johnson-Fermelia of Rock Springs, MSE-HKM of Sheridan, Nelson Engineering of Jackson, States West Water Resources of Cheyenne, and Western Water Consultants of Laramie.

Proposals are due on April 2nd, and will be distributed to selection committees for review. The selection committees will consist of two Water Development Commissioners, representatives of the planning team (staff from WWDC, the Water Resources Data System, and the State Engineer's Office), and a representative from the Bear River Basin Advisory Group. The Green River Basin group has not yet been formed.

Three firms will be selected to be interviewed for each basin plan. Those interviews will be held in Cheyenne on May 6th. Final selection will be made by the Water Development Commission on May 7th.

WWDC staff will negotiate contracts with the successful firms, and notice to proceed will be given July 1.

The due date for the Green River basin plan is December 30, 2000, while the Bear River plan is due October 30, of 2000.

WWDC and SEO prepare to hire planning staff

The State Water Plan enabling legislation authorized three new staff positions in the Water Development Office and one new position in the State Engineer's Office. An additional contract position was funded with the Water Resources Data System in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering at the University of Wyoming.

"We expected that it might be difficult to obtain funding for new staff positions," said Evan Green, WWDC Water Planning Project Manager.

"However we were able to take advantage of efficient technology in the acquisition, storage and manipulation of electronic data to reduce staff requirements," Green continued.

He added that the use of private sector consultants also enabled the planning team to keep full-time staff requirements to a minimum.

CRBCC asked to assist with formation of Green River BAG

In 1996, the Colorado River Basin Coordinating Council (CRBCC) called on the Governor and Wyoming Legislature to take an active role in updating the State's Framework Water Plan. That year the Water Development Commission and State Engineer's Office began working on the feasibility study for implementation of the new water planning process which was just passed into law.

In April, basin planning public outreach activities will get underway in the Green River Basin and the CRBCC will play an important role there.

The CRBCC was formed by the State Engineer's Office in 1992 and meets regularly to discuss water issues which are important to the Green River and its major sub-basins. State Engineer Jeff Fassett saw the need for information flow between basin citizens and state officials on important water policy issues. The coordinating council has worked very well in this regard and was one model for the Bear River citizens group organized last year during the feasibility study.

Public outreach is a crucial first task for planners in the Green. The planning team will ask local citizens to nominate a Green River Basin Advisory Group which can advise the State and private consultants who are formulating basin plans. A Basin Advisory Group (BAG) represents the full range of water interests in a basin and meets monthly to prioritize basin issues and review technical planning products.

It is hoped that the current CRBCC will provide the foundation for an Green River BAG. CRBCC leadership and experience in basin issues will be a resource that basin citizens can look to as they choose 12-15 individuals to represent them in the basin planning process. Insuring public interest and geographic representation will be an important task given the fact that the Green is a large and diverse basin.

The Colorado River Basin Coordinating Council will meet on March 30 from 10 am to 4 pm at the White Mountain Library, 2935 Sweetwater Drive, in Rock Springs.

Among other agenda items, the council will discuss how it can contribute to the formation of a Green River BAG.

Public Outreach Key to Successful Planning

Since 1996, members of the State Water Planning Team have made great effort to extend information and resources to individuals and public interest organizations. The team, led by the Wyoming Water Development Commission (WWDC), has employed a number of strategies to insure that the Wyoming public was well informed during the water planning feasibility study.

The process began with a statewide survey of the public on water planning issues, which helped to inform planners on Wyoming's citizen viewpoints. The team accepted many invitations to speak to public interest groups and talk about the goals of water planning and the recently approved state framework. Agricultural organizations, local governmental bodies and the wide range of water interested groups received several updates as the feasibility study progressed.

In the Bear River Basin, local citizens nominated 15 individuals to assist the planning team and keep information flowing to various water interests. Similar basin advisory groups will work in all planning basins statewide and are the basis for statewide planning and public outreach.

During the last two years, many citizens have chosen to contact the planning team in person so they could get their questions answered. Individuals have also made wide use of the information on the water planning web site:

The web site is an important vehicle for information transfer with the new water planning process. Considerable information is already available on the site and basin plans will be accessed through the Internet once they are completed.

Water Planning will remain committed to full public information access. Anyone with questions about water planning should contact the WWDC at 307- 777-7626 or check out the water planning web site.

CA implements "4.4 Plan" on Colorado River Water Use

(By : Water Education Foundation)

Southern California is facing a decrease in the water supply provided by the Colorado River -- one of the most controversial and heavily regulated rivers in the world. The Colorado is the only reliable water source for much of the desert Southwest.

Allocation of the lower Colorado has been fought over for decades and involved interstate compacts, a U.S. Supreme Court decision, a treaty with Mexico and federal and state legislation. The lower Colorado's flow is divided between Arizona, California, Nevada, several American Indian tribes and Mexico.

The six California water agencies that receive Colorado River water have continually used about 800,000 acre-feet more than their combined annual 4.4. million acre-feet share of Colorado River water. The water districts are the Imperial Irrigation District (IID), Palo Verde Irrigation District, MWD, which built the 242-mile long Colorado River Aqueduct that transports up to 1.2 million acre-feet of flow to its users, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) and Coachella Valley Water District.

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt warned California in 1996 that it can no longer rely on receiving more than its yearly entitlement because of growing demand in Arizona and Nevada. In response to Babbitt's request, California has drafted the "4.4 Plan" to reduce its consumption of the Colorado River back to its 4.4 million acre-feet apportionment, primarily through water conservation in the agricultural sector and water transfers to the urban sector.

Under the proposed plan, up to 800,000 acre-feet of water would be conserved via dry-year fallowing agreements, canal seepage recovery, groundwater banking, conjunctive use and desalinization of drainage water, as well as meet an American Indian water settlement within the state (16,000 acre-feet to the San Luis Rey Indian tribe located near San Diego).

An important element of the 4.4 Plan is the proposed water transfer between IID and San Diego of up to 200,000 acre-feet annually (possibly 300,000 after the tenth year) of conserved Colorado River water. The 40 year- agreement (with an option tore-new for 35 more years if both parties agree) was signed by both parties in April of 1998. In August of 1998, MWD signed an MOU with San Diego; allowing use of its aqueduct to transport water between IID and San Diego.

At the end of the 1998 Legislative session, a bill was passed to provide $235 million for the lining of the Coachella and All American canals. In essence, the money will alleviate the disagreement over the wheeling rates between MWD and San Diego. Instead what will happen is a water "swap" in which IID will transfer water to MWD and MWD, in turn, will transfer water to San Diego. The plan is intended to expedite the proposed transfer.

December of 1998 brought an MOU between Coachella Valley Water District and IID to quantify their use of the Colorado River: IID with 3.1 million acre-feet and CVWD with 468,000 acre-feet. The MOU also allocates 16,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water for the San Luis Rey Indian Tribe. Essentially, the MOUs are agreements to agree and IID and Coachella have six months to finalize their compromise.

Still to be completed in order for transfers to proceed is the required state and federal environmental compliance; determining which farmers will volunteer to fallow farmland; and deciding where the conserved water will be stored.

Special Thanks to the Supporters of Statewide Water Planning

The concept of statewide basin planning has received a great deal of support from around the state. Without the support of many organizations, the feasibility study would not have been as successful. While the full list of those who deserve thanks is too long, the Water Development Commission, State Engineer's Office and Water Resources Data System would like to express their gratitude to the following:

  • Bear River Basin Advisory Group
  • Fish and Wildlife Associates
  • Water Planning Scoping Group
  • Smith's Fork Irrigation District
  • WY Water Development Assoc.
  • Wyoming Water Coalition
  • University of Wyoming
  • Colorado River Basin Coordinating Council

Where to get more information:

Water Development Commission
Herschler Building, 4 West
Cheyenne, WY 82002

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