Green River Basin Advisory Group
Western Wyoming College, Rock Springs, WY
December 12, 2000
Facilitator Joe Lord welcomed the group and the meeting was
opened at 1:10 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
A review of the upcoming meeting schedule was provided:
|January 9th, 2001||Rock Springs||1:00||White Mountain Library|
|March 20th, 2001||Pinedale||10:00 AM||Sublette County Library|
Jon Wade then updated the group on the schedule for upcoming
basin plans. The WWDC has agreed to advance legislation this
upcoming session to begin plans in the Wind/Bighorn and
Snake/Salt River Basins. Open houses will be held in each of
these new basins during the last week of January, 2001.
Pat Tyrrell of States West was introduced. Mr. Tyrrell stated
that during the meeting there would be a presentation giving an
overview of the GIS aspects of the plan followed by continued
discussion of criteria for ranking future water use
Mr. Chris Jessen of States West was introduced and provided a
review of how GIS will be used to access different aspects of the
technical products prepared for the plan. Mr. Jessen presented a
computerized presentation showing how irrigated lands, water
rights and water right attribution interact. Also, an example
was given of how to evaluate a future project, using an
enlargement of the Green River Supply Canal as the example. This
evaluation showed how the existing irrigated lands, potentially
irrigable lands, and surface water availability results can be
used to make a first cut of project operation. Mr. Jessen then
also went through an example of how a potential groundwater
development could be evaluated using the water well information
compiled for the plan.
Mr. Tyrrell then took over from Chris to discuss further
evolution of the future water use opportunity ranking scheme.
Since the last BAG meeting, and due to further work by Mr.
Tyrrell and Gary Watts (and due to comments received in the
interim), the priorities and ranking criteria have changed. As
well, the numbers used in the rankings have been altered. To
review, the priorities are now as follows:
- Rehabilitation projects that preserve existing uses and economic dependencies.
- Projects that rectify existing demands/needs/shortages.
- Projects that meet projected demands/needs/shortages.
- Trans-basin diversions of water that enhance in-state uses.
The previous priority no. 5 involving the concept of sale or
lease has been removed.
Under each priority, six criteria are used to rank projects
qualitatively. These criteria (as modified from the previous BAG
- Water availability
- Financial Feasibility
- Public Acceptance
- Number of sponsors/beneficiaries/participants
- Legal/institutional concerns
- Environmental/recreation benefits
Each project under the various priorities contains rankings for
each of the above criteria. And, for each priority, the criteria
themselves are weighed differently. For criteria weighting under
each priority, values from 1 to 10 are assigned depending on the
relative importance of each criteria. For example, water
availability is ranked less heavily for rehabilitation projects
(priority 1), which should already have a water supply
established, than for new projects (priorities 2, 3 and 4) where
a new water supply is more crucial. Likewise, institutional
constraints rank less important for priority 1 projects than they
do for the other priorities because existing features should have
fewer legal/permitting hurdles than new projects.
Then, under each potential project, each criterion is ranked from
10 (large positive effect) to 0 (negative effect) to express
differences in water availability, institutional problems,
financial feasibility, etc. among the possibilities.
The ranking process uses the priority/criteria combination in a
scoring system to determine the most favorable projects under
each priority. The relative "importance" of each of the six
criteria (from 0 to 10) is multiplied by the ranking (0 to 10) of
each project to determine an overall score. While the score in
itself is meaningless, the relative ranking it provides is
designed to sort projects among the different priorities on the
basis of most to least favorable or most to least likely to
The most recent rankings were presented for review. A copy of
the rankings will be distributed to the BAG and made available
online. Some questions were received on the process as put
An initial comment seemed to imply that earlier draft priorities
either recommended the sale or acknowledged that sale of Wyoming
water had occurred. Mr. Tyrrell emphasized that no sale has
occurred and such an action was not recommended in the plan. In
fact, as mentioned earlier, priority 5 from the previous BAG meeting has
been removed from further consideration.
One questioner wondered whether the final "score" numbers were to
be viewed in an absolute sense, i.e. whether one should "tick
down" through the numbers by picking the literal numeric order
regardless of priority. Mr. Tyrrell answered that the final
scores were only a relative representation of preference and are
more properly viewed within each priority only (because of
variations in criteria weighting among the priorities). In
effect, they really represent the order of favorability within
each sub-basin within each priority.
Another wondered about the advisability of scoring a "zero" for
the Green River Lakes enlargement proposal under the headings of
"public acceptance" and "legal/institutional concerns." This
comment centered on the view that institutional and acceptance
can change over time, resulting in a different score. In
response, Tyrrell noted the comment but stated that as of now
this ranking seemed reasonable for a project that would affect a
wilderness boundary, but that future plans could modify this
value if public or legal climates moderate.
Another commenter wondered why, for legislative reasons, more
effort wasn't put into cost/benefit analysis. Tyrrell responded
that because much information comes from publications of greatly
different vintage with vastly different levels of effort put into
cost estimating, no pure cost/benefit analysis could objectively
be made. Therefore, the criteria of "financial feasibility"
attempts to describe the cost information that is available for a
project viewed from the standpoint of the use to which the water
would be put, in an effort to rank its chances of being funded
and repaid under existing public funding criteria.
Some discussion took place on how results will be presented.
Tyrrell indicated that a draft final report was hopefully going
to be submitted to Wyoming Water Development Commission (WWDC) by
December 22. Following planning team review and acceptance,
information will be available from the WWDC in a variety of
formats, including via the water plan website. This later,
preferred method of access will be available only after a
sufficient amount of time has been given the Water Resources Data
System to post the information online.
Ann Strand made a brief presentation on continuing a possible
BAG-sponsored request to the legislature to advocate funding
changes (putting the State Engineer's Office under the General
Fund, for example), and in opposition to de-earmarking of funds.
Whether the BAG should author this letter is still a subject of
debate. Ann will write a "white paper" for dissemination at the
next BAG meeting. Rose Skinner (Mayor of Pinedale) presented
the WAM position against de-earmarking of state funds.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.