Managing Water in the Upper Green River
Conference hosted by University of Wyoming Nov 14-15 in Pinedale
October 16, 2008
A major conference on the management of water on the Upper Green River will be hosted in Pinedale in mid-November by Stroock Forum on Wyoming Lands and People, of the University of Wyoming.
The conference, November 14-15, will feature a variety of experts discussing everything from climate change to groundwater quality to thirsty downstream states, and how all that affects the Upper Green River basin and the people who live there. At the event, people in the area will have an opportunity to discuss management options with each other and with the experts assembled for the event.
Gov. Dave Freudenthal plans to kick off the event with an introductory talk on the enduring significance of water management issues in the basin.
Meanwhile another Pinedale event, scheduled in coordination with the conference, will give the public a chance to review and give their opinions on studies the Wyoming Water Development Commission has done on a variety of water storage possibilities in the Green River basin.
The UW conference, examining a broad array of water issues all related to managing water on the Upper Green River, is sponsored by UW’s Stroock Forum on Wyoming Lands and People, founded by Tom Stroock of Casper, a former Wyoming legislative leader and former Ambassador to Guatemala under the first President Bush.
The 2008 Stroock Forum, "Water Management on the Upper Green River," will be held at the Rendezvous Pointe senior center in Pinedale on the afternoon of Friday Nov. 14 and the morning of Saturday Nov. 15.
The forum will start at 1:00 pm on Friday afternoon, ending at 5:00 pm. It will resume again at 8:00 am Saturday morning, to close at 1:00 pm. Wyoming’s state climatologist, state geologist and state engineer will be among the speakers addressing issues such as climate change, energy development, water rights and water values.
The event is free and open to the public, and everyone interested in water issues on the Green is welcome. A free brunch on Saturday created by chef Sue Eversull of Rendezvous Pointe will be provided for every participant. To register for the conference – ensuring enough chairs and food for all participants - people should go to www.uwyo.edu/stroockforum or call 307-766-2571.
The separate Wyoming Water Development Commission event will be held Friday evening, Nov. 14, also at Rendezvous Pointe.
The WWDC will hold an open house that evening, starting at 5:00 p.m., for the public to learn about studies the commission has funded regarding potential dam and storage sites in the Green River Basin. Mike Purcell, WWDC director, will give a talk on storage issues at 4:00 pm, the last event of the day at the UW conference, a talk which will also serve as an introduction to the WWDC open house starting at 5 pm.
The water development studies reviewed at the agency open house will include a look at not only a proposal for a dam on the main stem of the Green River near the Warren Bridge, which drew considerable public attention last winter, but also a number of other proposals for smaller storage facilities located along tributaries to the river, with off-channel sites.
The WWDC is holding similar open houses with introductory talks at other locations in the Green River Basin earlier in the week: Rock Springs, at Western Wyoming College on the evening of Nov. 12 starting at 6:00 p.m., and in Kemmerer at the public library on the evening of Nov. 13, starting at 6:00 p.m.
The agency is hoping to gather opinions from the public on the various storage proposals at the open houses, in addition to informing people about the results of the studies.
The conference the university is sponsoring on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning will start with a kickoff talk from Gov. Freudenthal highlighting the water issues facing people in the Green River basin.
Freudenthal will be followed by Steve Grey, the state climatologist, discussing climate change and its potential impacts on water management.
Ron Surdam, state geologist, will then discuss first the continued pressures of energy development area residents can expect, and then the quantity and quality of groundwater in the area.
KJ Reddy, of UW’s new School of Energy Resources, will then discuss specific problems of energy development and groundwater.
He’ll be followed by a discussion of changes in the glaciers feeding the surface water supply of the Green River, featuring Charles Love, professor of geology from Western Wyoming College.
Finally Mike Purcell, director of the water development commission, will discuss issues that currently surround new water storage, including the question of who is served by it and who is willing to pay for it.
The next morning, the conference will start back up again at 8 a.m. with Wyoming State Engineer Pat Tyrrell discussing issues and challenges from the Colorado River that affect the Green.
An economist who has studied the values of water as it is currently managed on the Upper Green, Ernie Niemi of the private firm ECONorthwest in Oregon, will then discuss what he has found and the issues raised by those findings.
Next, panels of speakers – one panel on the needs and pressures experienced by a variety of Green River users, and one discussing on-ground water management initiatives and their potential – will present their views.
Every talk will include time for audience question and answer. In addition, after the Saturday morning panels, the audience and the speakers will be provided a brunch with time to meet to discuss water topics of interest to each participant at "topic tables" hosted by experts on those topics. Finally, all those attending will meet again in one group to discuss conclusions and potential directions in water management that participants might want to pursue.
The entire event is free and everyone interested is welcome. Conference organizers request that people planning to attend register in advance in order to help with a head count for chairs and food, at: www.uwyo.edu/stroockforum or 307-766-2571.