Green River Basin Advisory Group meeting
Wyoming State Engineer Patrick Tyrrell gave an update on Wyoming - Colorado River Basin water topics.
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
March 26, 2008
Wyoming State Engineer Patrick Tyrrell was in Pinedale on Wednesday as one of the speakers at the Green River Basin Advisory Group meeting at the Sublette County Library. Tyrrell gave an update on the Colorado River Basin Compact.
Other speakers included Pinedale Town Engineer Eugene Ninnie giving a presentation on Town of Pinedale water management, and Scott Yates, Director of the Trout Unlimited Wyoming Water Project.
Topics discussed centered on updates, issues and strategies for present and future management of water in Wyoming.
About 50 people attended the public meeting, which lasted for three hours and included generous public comment opportunities during the presentations. The meeting was one of ten that is being held around the state to gather public input.
Below are reporter's notes of the meeting:
Green River Basin Advisory Group meeting notes
From March 26th meeting in Pinedale
By Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
The Green River Basin Advisory Group held a public meeting in Pinedale on Wednesday, March 26th in the Sublette County Library. The meeting was one of as many as ten that the group will hold across the state to inform the public about the Wyoming State Water Plan process, update issues and determine strategies for the future.
The planning process to create the Statewide Framework Water Plan is being done for the seven basins in Wyoming. The plan is a cooperative effort among the Water Development Commission, US Geological Survey, Wyoming State Geological Survey, and private consultant, WWC Engineering.
The Green River Basin Plan II has been in full swing for the last seven months. The plan was split into two parts. One part is focused on the plan update and the other focuses on groundwater. The update/surface water contract was awarded to WWC Engineering, which has offices in Sheridan and Laramie. Murray Schroeder, of the WWC Laramie office, is the project manager. The groundwater portion of the plan is being headed by the Wyoming State Geological Service (WSGS). Working with the WSGS is the United States Geological Survey and Water Resources Data System, University of Wyoming.
WWC: Wyoming Population Estimates
Murray Schroeder, of the WWC Laramie office, gave a presentation about population estimates. He noted that projections show the overwhelming bulk of growth in the Sublette County area by 2055 will be in the rural areas of the county. Pinedale is expected to grow to 6,000 residents in the next 50 years. The growth will result in increasing demands for water in the area.
Update on Colorado River Basin
Wyoming State Engineer, Patrick Tyrrell, gave an update on Colorado River Basin issues. The Green River in Wyoming ultimately flows into the Colorado River which supplies water to seven Colorado River Basin states. Water shortages and demand for water for agriculture and growing population are already putting strains on historic agreements of who gets how much water and when. The two big reservoirs for downstream users are Lake Mead and Lake Powell, both severely depleted from years of drought. The people who need the water are below Lake Powell, especially in Arizona, which has the most junior water rights. Tyrrell said, “Expect an interstate river lawsuit in the future,” when the time comes for a fight over who gets how much when gets in short supply.
The 2007 Basin Stages Agreement was implemented to try and put interim shortage guidelines in place to protect the seven states when water shortages come. That agreement has wording in place to do more to protect Wyoming’s upstream water rights when decisions are being made as to how to allocate water usage and rights in the Colorado River system.
Tyrrell said on the whole, the Wyoming statewide average for water is currently at about 100%, with the exception of the Upper Green River Basin, which is at about 85% of normal right now. “We get half our snow in March and April, so we may catch up,” he said.
Tyrrell said the State will be installing new instrumentation throughout the Green River Basin in coming years to better measure water flow in streams, diversions and reservoirs. The instruments will provide real-time data for water monitoring and will have a web component for data display.
Town of Pinedale: Eugene Ninnie, Town Engineer
The Town is implementing a Level I Plan to look at all the Town’s water pipes. Rio Verde Engineering of Pinedale has been hired to do this project. The Town will look at their entire water system, including sizing, hydrants, performance, and more, to develop a plan for improvements and target problems. They will develop a capital improvement plan for water just like they are already doing for roads, sewer and drainage. The Town’s plans will be reevaluated every five to 10 years. They will look to grants and other funding sources to help pay for the projects.
Trout Unlimited: Scott Yates
Scott Yates, Director for Trout Unlimited for Wyoming, gave a presentation on water restoration projects TU has worked on in Idaho. TU works with government agencies and landowners to work cooperatively to remove fish barriers and improve stream conditions for fisheries.
The public can read more about the Wyoming State Water Plan online and make comments by attending the upcoming meetings and filling out a comment card, or filling out the comment form online at: http://waterplan.state.wy.us/
Future meetings are tentatively planned for:
May 22 in Lyman
June 25 in Kemmerer