Powder/Tongue River Basin Advisory Group
Sheridan Inn - Sheridan
August 16, 2000
The facilitators opened the meeting at approximately 6:10 pm. They introduced themselves and
welcomed participants to the meeting. Participants introduced themselves by stating their name,
affiliation, and place of residence. The facilitators sent a sign-in sheet around the room and
reviewed the agenda to set the expectations for the meeting.
Planning Team Issues
Jon Wade gave a status report of the basin plans underway for the Bear and Green River Basins.
Both basins are nearing completion with results to be presented in the near future. Basin
Advisory Group (BAG) members are reviewing draft products.
Jodie Jackson distributed reference notebooks to BAG members. She then described the
contents of the notebook binders and the updates that will be mailed to BAG members prior to
each meeting. The updates will include items to be filed in the reference notebooks with
instructions where the materials are to be filed. She noted that only individuals who receive
the notebooks would receive the updates.
The facilitator distributed name tents to the BAG members. They explained that the back of the
name tent includes the meeting rules and a description of the informed consent rule adopted by
the BAG at the June meeting.
Barry Lawrence distributed the list of BAG members for both the Powder/Tongue and Northeast
studies. Barry explained that all nominees were contacted and indicated a willingness to serve
on the BAG. The Powder/Tongue BAG was now comprised of thirty-six members. As requested by the
BAG, Dave Spencer was contacted and agreed to represent the Wyoming Business Council on the BAG.
The facilitators explained that the BAG selected the following meeting dates and locations:
October 11 in Gillette; December 13 in Kaycee. The BAG agreed to hold the next meeting on
February 7 in Ucross.
Consultant Update - HKM Engineering
Joe Lord of Lord Consulting and Wade Irion of HKM Engineering presented a review of the scope of
work for the consulting team. The work to be performed under each of the seven tasks included in
the scope was explained. A question and answer session followed the presentation.
Question: What was the basis of the 50 gpm criteria for selecting wells to include in the
inventory? A questioner expressed a concern that there are a large number of smaller wells and
that a large component of water use in the basin is being missed by not including wells smaller
than 50 gpm.
Response: The 50 gpm criteria only applies to wells permitted for
agricultural, municipal, and industrial purposes. All CBM and domestic wells of any size will be
included in the inventory. During the scoping process it was determined water use by agriculture,
municipal, and industrial wells less than 50 gpm does not have a significant impact on the total
water use in the basin.
Question: Will the Yellowstone River Compact and demands from downstream states be
Question: Is there a way to model the groundwater by including wells less than 50 gpm in
an aggregate basis?
Response: No groundwater modeling will be completed as part of the planning
study. Existing groundwater models and analyses will be used to assess groundwater availability.
Question: Will the water rights assessment identify illegal diversions?
The water right attribution process will not be detailed enough to identify illegal diversions.
Question: What is the procedure for dealing with under allocation or over allocation of
water rights versus actual land use?
Response: Irrigation water use will not be based on
water rights but on actual use on irrigated lands, regardless if the lands have water rights.
Question: Will water rights be catalogued?
Response: Sue Lowry of the State
Engineer's Office explained the water right attribution process begins with mapping irrigated
lands parcels from aerial photography on a quad-level scale. The consulting team will then
research the records in the State Engineer's Office to identify groupings of water rights
associated with the irrigated parcels. This process does not map water rights. It is known
there are a lot more paper rights on the books than there is water actually being used. Knowing
the number of acres irrigated, the type of crops irrigated, and the consumptive requirement of
the crops, the actual water use can be determined as opposed to a determination of the total
water rights that are on the books.
Issues Identification Process
Issues submitted by BAG members to the planning team prior to the meeting were grouped into
major categories and used as a starting point for the exercise. The facilitators distributed
small colored sheets of paper and asked participants to write issues on these sheets. Sheets
were collected, posted, read, and classified under the identified categories. Identified issues
and subissues which were presented at the meeting, follow below.
Water Quality: stream classification (DEQ & G&F); baseline data collection -
groundwater and surface water; TMDL; NPDES permitting; erosion sediment deposition; Coal Bed
Methane (CBM) discharge; aquifer commingling; agricultural feeding operations and confined
agricultural feeding operations (AFO/CAFO); land use impacts; aquifer classification; stormwater
discharge; best management practices (BMPs); irrigation return flows; water temperature;
transbasin diversion; herbicide/pesticide use and runoff (golf course); well classification;
irrigation practices; sodium adsorption ratio (SAR); leach fields impact/subsurface discharges.
Water rights: preservation of existing rights prior to compacts; compact issues;
transbasin and tributary diversions; change of use/change of point of diversion issues; federal
takeover threats; instream flows - fisheries, esthetics, recreation; minimum pools in reservoirs
for recreation/fish; state water law; prior appropriation doctrine; permitting process; permitted
uses; ditch right vs. water right; cumulative impacts from CBM water discharge; water reserves
for future uses; low flows impacting fish and aquatic environment; unused water rights; abandoned
Future Use Projections: population projections - local, federal, state;
recreation/tourism; aesthetic/visual use; changing land use; energy use; technology; industry;
economic; agriculture; pressure on infrastructure.
Regulatory: wetlands; instream flow requirements; source water protection;
wellhead protection; emotional paranoia; EPA trying to take over State's primacy; issues for new
dam permitting; Clean Water Act; Endangered Species Act; NEPA (National Environmental Policy
Act); permitted vs. non-permitted flow diversion; EPA, DEQ, state, county, federal, other; state
and federal laws effecting use and development; safety of dams; U.S. Army Corps, Game & Fish, US
Fish & Wildlife, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) - tribes.
Public Education: walls of water; value & economic cost of water; conservation;
help for ditch organizations; water law; understanding Clean Water Action Plan; meeting; college;
schools; COE (Corps of Engineers) permitting; economic benefits of CBM; radio/TV; coal seam
depressurization; regulatory agency statute development; public regulatory contribution; fact vs.
fiction; NEPA process public input.
Water Development: rehabilitation of existing conveyance systems (old ditches),
highest and best use priorities; municipal; agriculture; pipeline distribution stock water
systems; extreme difficulty in getting dams permitted; improved irrigation efficiency; minimum
flows & flushing flows below dams (present ones and future development); fish loss to diversion
ditches; plan, plan, plan; privatized public use systems; pre-compact projects; new technologies
and new uses; funding; aquifer storage and retrieval (ASR) programs.
Following the issues identification process, the facilitators solicited general comments and
Question: When will the meeting record be distributed?
Response: Records of previous
BAG meetings are in the reference notebook. Meeting records will also be distributed prior to
the next BAG meeting and will also be posted on the water plan web site.
Question: When will the issues be available on the Internet?
Response: Not until the
process has been completed and an "issues" document can be crafted and placed on the Internet.
Issues identified to date will be included in the meeting record distributed prior to the next
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:45 pm.