Bear River Basin Advisory Group
Town Hall, Cokeville, WY
March 19, 2001
River Basin Planning Manager Jon Wade welcomed the group and the meeting was called to
order at 6:10 p.m. The overall meeting agenda was reviewed, followed by an introduction of all
attendees. A sign-in sheet was passed around to record attendance.
Planning Team Issues
Jon Wade discussed the status of the Green River Basin planning process. He explained that the
final plan has been published. The online version will be available in a couple of months. This
includes not only the final report, but also all the digital geographic information that went into
the plan. Such information will be available on the website: http://waterplan.state.wy.us/
Jon also gave an update of the planning efforts underway in the Powder/Tongue and Northeast
Basins. He briefly discussed the status of consultant work, as well as presented a summary of the
basin advisory group meetings held in Ucross and Moorcroft, respectively. Additionally, Jon
discussed the recent open houses held in the Wind/Bighorn and Snake/Salt River Basins to
introduce river basin planning. BAG formation meetings will be held in these basins in
The draft Bear River Basin Plan has been received and will be reviewed by state staff over the
next couple of weeks. The plan has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, which were
encountered by the consultant. Once finalized, the plan will be made available in a similar
manner. Jon reiterated the benefits of accessing the plans online versus hard copies when they
are available. Denice Wheeler made a request of the planning team to present an update on the
Bear River Basin Planning process to the Bear River Commission when it meets in April in Salt
Lake City. Denice also mentioned the upcoming Upper Bear River tour, which is being hosted
by the Commission August 13th and 14th. Denice invited members of the Basin Advisory Group
to participate in the tour.
Jon briefly discussed the role, functions, and objectives of the basin advisory group during the
interim until the Bear River Basin water plan is updated. The next Bear River Basin Advisory
Group meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 9th at 6 p.m. at the Lincoln County Library in
Water Development Commission Report
New Projects - John Jackson, WWDC Planning Administrator, gave a brief report on
the projects that were authorized by the 2001 Legislature during the recent session. Those
projects are as follows:
Level I New Development Projects:
Lodgepole Aquifer Storage and Retrieval $ 50,000
Prairie Dog Watershed (increased appropriation) $ 35,000
Three Horses Watershed $ 100,000
Level II New Development Projects:
Casper Zone II Supply $ 60,000
Hot Springs/Worland Regional Pipeline (increased appropriation) $ 670,000
Moorcroft Well (increased appropriation) $ 145,000
North Uinta Water Supply $ 100,000
Opal Regional Water Supply (increased appropriation) $ 90,000
Story Fire District $ 25,000
Level I Rehabilitation Projects:
Popo Agie Watershed Study $ 200,000
Wind/Bighorn and Snake/Salt River Basin Plans $1,550,000
University of Wyoming Research $ 140,000
Wyoming Geological Survey - NE Wyoming $ 400,000
Level II Rehabilitation Projects:
Alpine Spring Irrigation Supply $ 40,000
Dayton Water Supply $ 50,000
Deaver Irrigation Rehab $ 100,000
Granger Rehab $ 65,000
Riverton Valley Rehab No. 2 $ 40,000
State Engineer's Office Report
Pat Tyrrell, Wyoming State Engineer, stated that he had been on the job for about two months.
Pat also indicated that he has been as busy, as he has ever been, and is loving it. Pat mentioned
that he is trying to get up to speed on the issues in the Bear River Basin. He then proceeded to
give an update on current activities in his agency.
The State Engineer's Office has processed between 4,000 to 5,000 coalbed methane (CBM)
permits over the last 18 months. CBM issues have taken a considerable amount of time for his
staff. The quantity of the wells, the ephemeral channels, and the sodium adsorption ratios all
play a part in the issue. CBM production is considered a beneficial use of water.
Pat briefly discussed the current activities being undertaken regarding the North Platte
settlement. Additional manpower may be needed in his office to implement the agreement.
Criteria have been created for the operation of the river. In the Bighorn lawsuit, the State
Engineer's Office is still adjudicating Indian rights, states' rights, and Walton rights in
accordance with court decree. The deadline for these activities is 2003.
Pat then discussed the status of the instream flow permitting process, pending compact issues,
and a recent trip to the Mexican delta. He also indicated that he was looking forward to meeting
with the Bear River Commission at its meeting in April.
Jade Henderson, Division IV Superintendent for the Wyoming State Engineer's Office, was
introduced and discussed snowpack conditions across the state. Jade indicated that the Upper
Bear snowpack currently stood at 63%, and he anticipates tight controls this year, including state
and interstate regulation. Bear Lake is not low yet, thus it has not triggered storage restrictions
upstream to date. Jade's staff is also busy finishing the hydrogapher's commissioner's report for
this year. The planning team and consultants relied heavily on this later information in compiling
and producing the current Bear River Basin plan.
Water Resources Data System Report
Robin Gray gave a brief overview of the current activities of the Water Resources Data System
(WRDS). She also reported that Dennis Feeney has resigned his position as the coordinator of
WRDS. Robin stated that she is currently working on getting the Green River Plan on the
website. Other activities have included placing WRDS water library holdings online, assisting
the WWDC with its public water supply system and irrigation systems surveys, and the initiation
of a project to do a geohydrologic analysis in coalbed methane areas of NE Wyoming. This latter
project is being done in cooperation with the Wyoming State Geological Survey and utilizes
technology and processes developed for the Little Snake River Project.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department Report
Ron Remmick of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department gave an update on his agencies'
activities. Ron began by discussing the smallmouth bass that was caught in a sampling net in the
Bear River Basin. The discovery did make the news, and Ron is hopeful that it was the only fish,
and that the species would not propagate throughout the basin. To do so, would be very
problematic for the fisheries being maintained.
Ron then discussed the status of the listing of species with specific attention being paid to
Bonneville Cutthroat Trout. He indicated that the decision on the Bonneville was at the
solicitor's office and the result could not be put out at this time due to a funding issue.
Therefore, this issue is currently in limbo. Ron concluded his presentation by handing out copies
of a publication on "Reducing Trout Losses from Irrigation Diversions".
Bear River Water Quality Task Force Update
Craig Thomas explained the purpose of the task force and how they have been the catalyst for the
three states' (Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming) Department of Environmental Quality agencies talking
together. Craig indicated that Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) were in the forefront at this
time. He further discussed the USGS Great Salt Lake Basin National Water Quality Assessment
(NAWQA) Program and the synoptic monitoring of the Bear River system being done right now.
This includes 38 primary sampling sites and an additional 17 others. Coordinated monitoring
sites between the three states have also been useful to the individual states themselves.
Idaho is currently working on a TMDL planning effort, which has been driven by a lawsuit
through the Environmental Protection Agency. This project covers portions of the mainstem of
the Bear River, but does not cover the lake itself. Idaho is 45-60 days out from generating a sub-
basin assessment, and then they will set proposed goals and targets. Nitrogen, phosphorous and
total suspended solids are all being looked at. Utah (in the Cache Valley area) has a TMDL, and
is currently working on the lower section. This work is being done through the Bear River Water
Conservancy District. In Wyoming, the Department of Environmental Quality is conducting
monitoring, and is evaluating its data. [Jack Smith, Wyoming DEQ, will present the findings
of these activities at the July Bear River BAG meeting in Kemmerer.]
In other activities, Craig reported that scientists from the US Geological Survey have drilled two
cores into the sediment of Bear Lake. He then further discussed the sediment traps found in Bear
Lake. The north and south ends of the lake are being compared.
Finally, Craig noted some upcoming events, which may be of interest. First, on March 27th, there
will be an open house, which is being sponsored by the preservation advisory committee and
Pacificorp. The event will be held in Montpelier from 1 to 5 p.m. Also, the next meeting of the
Bear River Water Quality Task Force will be May 29th in the Bear Lake area.
Cloud Seeding Activities Along the Wasatch
Norm Stauffer, Utah Department of Water Resources, went through the weather modification
activities being undertaken by the State of Utah. He discussed the purpose and history of the
program and the methodologies employed, including the utilization of aircraft and ground
generators. North American Weather Consultants is the firm actually doing the cloud seeding.
Norm indicated that they are utilizing 125 ground-based sites this year. They estimate a 10-20%
increase in precipitation in the form of snow. Norm concluded by going through the
environmental conditions that must exist for the seeding to be successful as well as the funding
mechanisms needed to maintain the program.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:50 p.m.