Bear River Basin Advisory Group
November 8, 1999
The meeting opened on Monday, November 8, 1999, at 6:04 p.m. at the Uinta County Library. Joe
Lord, the facilitator for the group, handed out copies of the agenda. The attendance sign-in list was
circulated at this time.
Planning Team Issues
Robin Gray, Water Planning Data Manager for the Water Resources Data System, handed out
information on the
Water Plan Web Site to members of the Basin Advisory Group (BAG). Robin
also explained that she would be doing a demo of the site during the break should anyone like a
Future Meetings & Locations
It was noted that future meetings are tentatively scheduled for January 10th in Kemmerer, March 13th
in Cokeville and May 8th in Evanston. It was asked if the 6pm time frame was still agreeable with
everyone or if anyone had a suggestion as to an earlier time due to the season and length of daylight.
Receiving no negative responses, the meeting time will remain the same.
BAG membership issues were discussed. Specifically, state staff agreed to contact members who
consistently fail to attend meetings in order to ascertain their willingness to continue to represent their
Clarence Kemp, Forsgren Associates, was introduced and preceded with an update. The Base
Mapping in GIS is complete. Mr. Kemp displayed PowerPoint slides of the basin diversion
schematics, focusing on system understanding.
Handouts of the schematics were also given to the
group. Mr. Kemp explained that he had previously spent time with the Division Superintendent and
Hydrographer Commissioner regarding specifics of the system. Also passed out were the schematics
generated from the Wyoming State Engineer's Records as to how the different canals interface in the
basin. It was titled "Upper and Lower Wyoming Bear River Diversions".
The mapping effort has included the upper and lower portions of the river, Twin Creek, and
Smith's Fork. Some repeated issues involved Woodruff Narrows and how the water is regulated.
Sulfer Creek storage waters have significant usage by exchanges, but are not formally filed or
recorded. Members of the BAG reviewed the schematics and suggested changes and/or
Bear River Compact - By Sue Lowry, Director for Policy and Administration, Wyoming
State Engineers' Office
Ms. Lowry stated that she wanted to give a broad overview as to why we (Wyoming) participate in
interstate activities regarding the Bear River Compact and why it is unique for many reasons. Ms.
Lowry passed out several different handouts regarding her discussion.
Ms. Lowry stated that issues are increasing fairly rapidly regarding water quantity and water quality.
A master list
is in effect for general presentations by numerous interested groups that wish to be
active in this area. She noted that the Wyoming State Engineer, the Interstate Streams Engineer, and
herself are all involved in getting information together to answer questions regarding the more
technical issues of these concerns. During the general topic overview of issues facing the State
Engineers Office, the BAG discussed a few specifics:
- The subject of "private" instream flows was introduced. More people are interested as to the
viability of instream flows being handled/controlled by residents. Most landowners prefer to keep
water rights in private ownership. Changes by the State of Wyoming in this area are being looked
at. Formal discussions will most likely be forthcoming within the next year or two.
- A new program being conducted by the State Engineer's Office is water conservation. Ron
Vore has been enlisted and will spend a lot of time in the Platte River Basin. He is exploring water
conservation opportunities in Wyoming.
- Another concept being explored is dry-year leasing. Contracts with senior water rights holders
might be put into place in the event dry-year leasing, generally by a municipality, becomes necessary.
The water rights would remain in the control of the landowner.
- A question arose regarding the current status of the North Platte litigation. Nebraska raised
issues regarding enough changes in varieties of agricultural management. The issue was raised as
to whether or not more or less water is being used than in 1945 when the US Supreme Court decree
Ms Lowry then spoke on the topic of the Bear River Compact.
The Bear River Compact
covers a relatively small geographic area but regulations are affected by the
complexities of the compact. Discussion was held regarding the Bear River Basin depletion concerns.
It is the only Wyoming compact that includes groundwater, deals with water based on depletion
amounts, and has been amended. Most of the other compacts are based on percent allocations at
some point. The Bear River Compact is unique in its detailing of specific amounts of storage and
depletion allowed. A handout on
Wyoming River Basin Compacts and Decrees was given to the BAG members.
The Bear River Compact provides for a Commission, which meets in November and April of each
year. The Commission usually meets in Salt Lake City. There is a mandatory review of the compact
every twenty years. The compact was amended in 1978 and ratified by Congress in 1980.
A water quality committee was recently formed. Local groups of citizens are currently working on
such water quality issues. Their involvement is very beneficial to the compact. The Wyoming
Department of Environmental Quality, Water Quality Division is also involved in such efforts. The
Records Committee of the Commission publishes gauge and ditch diversion reports every other year.
The Bear River Commission is pursuing an increased outreach effort with the public. To this effort,
a symposium was held on Bear Lake in September to discuss the current water issues in the basin and
to promote dialogue between scientists, water experts, and the general public.
A map was distributed which showed the Bear River Basin. Also, a flow chart was similarly
distributed detailing the various reaches of the river, as well as a narrative on the basin. The Bear
River crosses the state line five times. The upper division goes from the headwaters to Pixley Dam.
From Pixley Dam to Stewart Dam is the central division. The lower division is from the Stewart
Dam to the Great Salt Lake.
The Smith's Fork area was brought into focus. In 1958, the original compact provided for divisions
and talked only about recognized storage areas that had been built. Allocations were made by the
State as to what could be developed after 1958. An additional 17,750 acre-feet was allocated for
storage. Wyoming showed construction of 13,183 of the allocated acre-feet. The Smith Fork was
allocated 4,100 AF. It has been held in reserve. A storage area was to have been built by Smith Fork
to facilitate the additional AF, but has not been constructed as yet. It is to be used when the Bear
Lake drops below 5,911 feet elevation. When Bear Lake drops below 5911 feet elevation, Wyoming
can transfer the 4100 acre-feet of Smiths Fork storage to Woodruff Narrows Reservoir on a year-by-
year basis. There are differing opinions as to whether or not the water could be brought to Pixley
below the dam area.
The amended compact (passed in 1980) quantified river storage allowable depletions and provided
for additional storage to 35,000 AF and allowed for 13,000 AF for depletion. This compact is the
only one that allocates water on this basis. Analyses were performed to determine each states' use
of their allocations from 1976 to 1990.
A comparison of irrigation depletions and allocations from 1976 through 1990 was examined. A
handout was given to BAG
members which detailed this information.
A question was raised regarding the export law for out of state allocation of water usage. The export
law provides for statutory rules for AF usage outside the state without approval of the legislature.
Copies of the statues were passed out.
Break - Robin Gray demonstrated the water planning website at this time.
Ms. Lowry resumed her presentation with slides of the different reaches, facilities and impoundments
in the Bear River Basin. She gave a brief history of the Bear Lake area regarding water rights. Bear
Lake was off channel prior to 1910. Idaho Sugar and Bear River Canal Company cut a deal assuring
that 900 CFS would always be delivered at Cutler Dam. When the Bear Lake got so low during the
1980's drought, PacifiCorp had trouble delivering allocated amounts required by the contracts. The
Bear Lake area has increased tremendously in development as of late.
Scottish Power/PacifiCorp Merger
PacifiCorp is in the process of being acquired by Scottish Power. The Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission becomes involved with the magnitude of a merger of this type. The State of Idaho
became concerned regarding water rights issues and was going to ask PacifiCorp to subordinate their
rights as condition for approval of the merger. Since this time the three states met to negotiate the
water regulatory impact of the merger between the two power companies. An agreement was made
that there would be no sidebar arrangements between the parties affected.
The Scottish Power Company has an obligation to notify the states regarding any operating condition
changes. The position of the Bear River Commission is that it does not wish to become involved in
the merger discussions. The commission feels that the merger should be between the three states
involved, being Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. Wyoming has agreed to the merger and an operating
agreement is being drafted.
This ended Ms. Lowry's presentation.
Cutthroat Trout Presentation by Ron Remmick, Regional Fisheries Supervisor, Wyoming
Game and Fish
Ron began by discussing Colorado and Bonneville Cutthroat Trout. Issues surrounding the
Yellowstone Cutthroat were also discussed. Slides were presented showing the different trout and
their habitat areas. Mr. Remmick explained that the University of Wyoming is very involved in such
studies of the fish. Habitat surveys are being conducted to determine the survival rate of the trout.
Native ranges are being restocked where possible. Efforts are being made to reproduce the native
Cutthroats. Over-utilization by humans, scientific studies and recreational uses have caused a decline
in the native fish. Regulations are being put into place regarding the threats of decline. Man-made
complications, diseases of the fish, drought conditions, etc., have all played important parts to the
The goal is to establish two self-sustaining meta-population areas. Connections of the streams
provide for more mobility of the fish during droughts and so on. Other types of trout that inhabit the
native areas are hardier and threaten the existence of the Colorado and Bonneville Cutthroat.
Therefore, these non-native fish are captured and disposed of to prevent this overtake. It is a goal
to maintain areas that support the Colorado River Cutthroat and to maintain genetic purity of the fish.
Also, it is the goal to increase distribution where ecologically, sociologically, and economically
From studies of the fish, it is felt that placements that have recently been made are flourishing and the
fish are doing well in the streams. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission is doing all it can to
ensure that the native habitats are well maintained and that regulations are carried out for their
The meeting adjourned at 8:47 PM.