Pioneer Canal and Laramie River by Tony Bergantino
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Wyoming Water Development Commission Fall 2010

In this issue...

  • CoCoRaHS
  • Water Development Commission Promotes Regional Water Systems
  • Pathfinder Modification Project Update
  • Calendar of Water Events

  • CoCoRaHS

    The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is a unique, non-profit, community-based network of volunteers working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail, and snow).By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education, and using an interactive Web-site, the aim is to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education, and research applications.

    The network originated with the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University in 1998 thanks in part to the Fort Collins flood a year prior. In 2003, Wyoming joined the network and began providing mapping services for the program. In the years since, CoCoRaHS has grown to include thousands of volunteers nationwide in all 50 states. Over 500 volunteers have signed up in Wyoming, with about 200 of them being active in the last year. Typically there are about 130 to 140 reports on a given day. The map below shows the stations that have reported data within the last year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a major sponsor of CoCoRaHS. Other organizations have contributed either financially, and/or with supplies and equipment, and the list of sponsors continues to grow.

    CoCoRaHS has several goals: 1) provide accurate high-quality precipitation data for the many end users on a timely basis; 2) increasing the density of precipitation data available throughout the country by encouraging volunteer weather observing; 3) encouraging citizens to have fun participating in meteorological science and heightening their awareness about weather; and 4) providing enrichment activities in water and weather resources for teachers, educators, and the community at large to name a few.

    Each time a rain, hail, or snow storm crosses an area, volunteers from as many locations as possible take measurements.These precipitation reports are then recorded on the website Data are displayed and organized for the many end users to analyze and apply to daily situations including water resource analysis and severe storm warnings. CoCoRaHS is used by a wide variety of organizations and individuals.The National Weather Service, other meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities, insurance adjusters, USDA, engineers, mosquito control staff, ranchers and farmers, outdoor and recreation interests, teachers, students, and neighbors in the community are just some examples of those who visit the website and use the data.

    Precipitation can vary widely over a short distance, and having CoCoRaHS volunteers gives a better picture of the rainfall in an area. The graph presented to the right shows the official precipitation (the lower line) for Laramie recorded at the airport for water year 2008 through most of water year 2010. The upper line shows the precipitation recorded at a CoCoRaHS station within the city of Laramie over the same time period. The difference in the lines (shown between the lines) illustrates the necessity of having a large number of precipitation measurements in an area.

    An example of how CoCoRaHS is used for emergency management planning is the La Grange flooding on August 14, 2006. Most of the reports in Goshen and surrounding counties were of less than 0.10" of rainfall, but one value at La Grange of 2.79" indicated that a large event had taken place at that location. The comments filed by the observer indicated this was a valid report (report shown above).

    By providing daily observations, volunteers help to fill in a piece of the weather puzzle that affects many across the state. Everyone can help, young, old, and in-between. The only requirements are an enthusiasm for watching and reporting weather conditions and a desire to learn more about how weather can effect and impact our lives. If you volunteer, you will have the chance to make some new friends as you do something important and learn some new things along the way. In some areas, activities are organized for network participants including training sessions, field trips, special speakers, picnics, pot-luck dinners, and photography contests.

    For more information and to sign up, please visit, or contact the Wyoming CoCoRaHS State Coordinator, Tony Bergantino, at or (307) 766-3786.

    Water Development Commission Promotes Regional Water Systems

    The Water Development Commission (Commission) has a philosophy that regional approaches to water system development are in keeping with their mission, a better economic investment, and a better use of water resources. For example, typical rural water systems find it difficult to maintain the staff and financial resources to operate a public water supply. A systematic approach to water source development often creates less impact to the surface and groundwater resources.

    To encourage systematic development, the Operating Criteria of the Wyoming Water Development Program gives preference to more regional projects:

    "Priority will be given to those projects that may practically serve more than one entity or purpose and whose service area encompasses a larger, more regional area."
    This preference is implemented in several ways. Water supply project funding requests that can be configured to provide service to a regional area will be given priority. Additionally, the Commission will give funding preference to those water supply projects for subdivisions or rural domestic projects that propose to connect to another existing public water supply system.

    Regional water system benefits, to project sponsors and the state, are realized in several ways. The first is providing a safe, reliable and well maintained water system. A second is helping to direct growth and development. In keeping with the state.s .Building the Wyoming We Want. development philosophy, local governments can encourage growth in desired locations by the way they locate their water infrastructure. Expanding water systems adjacent to existing infrastructure promotes concentric growth and orderly development. Random subdivision development makes it difficult to provide water service as well as other services such as fire and police protection, and transportation systems.

    The Gillette Regional Pipeline Project is a good example of a pro-active approach to development. During past boom cycles many subdivisions were established in Campbell County that continue to strain public services. Since that time the City of Gillette and Campbell County have made strides toward more orderly development by moving forward with their current regional planning project. The proposed system will offer service to many developments that are suffering with sub-standard water systems, and will encourage future development to occur in optimal locations corresponding with the new pipeline routes. Another example is the Bighorn Regional Water Supply System. This project, in concert with the Washakie Rural Water Supply System, provides an excellent water supply for most of the eastern Big Horn Basin. Local groundwater sources are dismal in this area so the regional systems have been quite beneficial to rural and urban areas alike. To develop individual water sources for all the entities included in just these two systems would have been considerably more expensive; would have required each entity to develop and fund their own support services; and would not have provided local governments with the ability to encourage growth according to their plans.

    Other regional systems supported by the Commission include the Shoshone Municipal Water Supply Project, the Sheridan Area Water Supply project, and the Central Wyoming Regional Water Supply project to name a few.

    In summary, the preference and philosophy for development of regional water infrastructure will save the state and local governments considerable money, not only in water system development and support, but also in the cost of providing other public services.

    Pathfinder Modification Project Update

    The Pathfinder Modification Project is to replace the existing broad crested weir spillway with a more flow efficient ogee spillway to recover 54,000 acre-feet of space in Pathfinder Reservoir lost to sedimentation. The construction is being funded by the WWDC. The project was bid July 22, 2010, and the successful bidder was ASI Constructors from Pueblo West, Colorado. A notice to proceed was issued August 15, 2010.

    Currently the foundation for the new spillway crest is being exposed and prepared for construction. The project completion date is April 1, 2012. For more information, please see the WWDO Fall 2009 newsletter.

    Calendar of Events

    • October 27-30, 2010 - WWA Annual Meeting; Laramie, WY
    • October 28-29, 2010 - Western States Water Council Meeting; San Diego, CA
    • November 1-5, 2010 - Board of Control Quarterly Meeting; Cheyenne, WY
    • November 2-4, 2010 - Upper Missouri Water Association/Montana Water Resources Association Convention; Billings, MT
    • November 3-5, 2010 - WWDC/ Select Water Committee Workshop/Joint Meeting; Casper, WY
    • November 16, 2010 - Bear River Commission Meeting; Salt Lake City, UT
    • November 17-19, 2010 - Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum; San Diego, CA
    • December 7-8, 2010 - Western Governors. Association Meeting; Las Vegas, NV
    • December 13-14, 2010 - WWDC Workshop/ Meeting; Cheyenne, WY
    • December 15, 2010 - Select Water Committee Meeting; Cheyenne, WY
    • December 15-17, 2010 - Colorado River Water Users Association Meeting; Las Vegas, NV
    • January 11, 2011 - Legislative Session Begins
    • February 1-5, 2011 - Board of Control Quarterly Meeting; Cheyenne, WY
    • March 3-4, 2011 - WWDC Workshop/Meeting; Cheyenne, WY

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