News & Information
River Basin Plans
Basin Advisory Groups
Green River Basin Water Plan
||Green River Basin Plan|
Irrigated Lands and Permit GIS DATA
|PREPARED BY: ||
Mike O'Grady, States West Water Resources Corporation|
Frank Carr, Water Rights Services, LLC
Jack Meena, States West Water Resources Corporation
Chris Jessen, States West Water Resources Corporation
Irrigated Lands Mapping Process - Green River Water Plan
States West Water Resources Corporation was contracted by the Wyoming Water
Development Commission Office in June, 1999. One of our tasks was to develop GIS
mapping of all recently irrigated lands within Wyoming's Green River Basin. While our
procedures varied slightly for each sub-basin, the process was based upon four general
phases, all of which are described below. In general, States West developed mapping of
all currently irrigated agriculture (1999) in the Green River, Little Snake, and Great
Divide Basins in Wyoming and attached all associated water rights to those lands.
Aerial and Satellite Photography Interpretation and Mapping
Aerial photos were obtained from the Wyoming Water Development Commission
(WWDC) offices in Cheyenne, Wyoming. This photography is quadrangle-centered,
quadrangle-scale (1:24,000) color infra-red film positives. This photography was
obtained for Wyoming by Mark Hurd Aerial Surveys in the summers of 1983/84 and was
conducted under the direct supervision of Mr. Michael O'Grady. Mr. O'Grady served as
the project manager for Water Division IV (Green, Snake, and Bear River Basins) for the
Wyoming Water Development Commission at that time.
The aerial photography was supplemented by infra-red satellite imagery (figure 1). The
files were obtained from Space Imaging and range in date from late 1997 to 1999. They
are ortho-rectified images that were delivered in TIFF format on CD. TFW files were
also included to provide location and scale of the image in the correct state plane
coordinate system (Wyoming West, Wyoming West Central, and Wyoming East
Central). These files were plotted on bond for comparison to the clear overlays described
later. Of the over 300 quadrangles in the three basins, only the 128 satellite images
showing irrigated lands were purchased. Figure 2 illustrates those quadrangles.
click to enlarge
click to enlarge
The current mapping project was performed much as it was for the first comprehensive
irrigated lands mapping of the basin, conducted for the Green River basin Water Plan by
the Wyoming Water Planning Program (WWPP) in 1970. (WWPP Report #9, 1971)
For the present mapping project, States West obtained 7.5 minute digital vectorized
USGS quadrangle coverage for the irrigated portions of the Green River, Little Snake and
Great Divide Basins. On Figure 1, the overlaid lines represent the vectors. These
Autocad files contain all roads, hydrography, section lines, pipelines, trails, and other
quadrangle features excluding topography. The digital quadrangles were then plotted
onto clear mylar and used to directly overlay the WWDC photography and the satellite
imagery. The procedure followed was to determine base irrigated polygons using the
WWDC photography with recent changes (additions to or deletions from the base)
determined from the 1997-1999 imagery. It is important to note that not all roads, canals,
ditches, power lines, etc. were excluded from the irrigated polygon. This is because at
1:24,000 scale imagery the width of an interpreted boundary line is approximately 100
feet. To attempt to exclude these small linear features or very small polygons from an
irrigated polygon would only increase the error in assessing the total irrigated acreage.
Upon completion of the irrigated land interpretation, the final mylar plots consisted of the
original background information, irrigation according to the earlier WWDC photography
and the changes illustrated by the recent satellite imagery. This product forms the basis
of all the digital coverages produced for irrigated lands in the study basins. Figure 3
shows the final resulting polygons on the Farson Quadrangle.
click to enlarge
It is also important to note that the use of two mapping products to determine irrigated
acreage introduces certain characteristics to the final product that cannot be avoided.
First, the WWDC photography is at higher resolution than the recent satellite imagery,
but it is non-rectified. This causes minor "stretch" when digitized polygons from these
photos are initially overlaid on the satellite imagery background, which is rectified.
However, the increased resolution of the photography is more desirable for determining
the base irrigated polygon boundaries because the "edges" are much sharper. In instances
in which the new field boundaries or locations greatly differed, they were modified
according to the new imagery. This results in land mapping that matches the new
imagery, but appears to have errors when comparisons are made to the old WWDC
photography. The use of the imagery to determine only the incremental changes since
the date of the WWDC photography (a time span of 16 years) provides a defendable
measure of the current irrigated acreage. The procedure as described (determination of
irrigated acreage from WWDC photos subsequently modified from satellite imagery) has
been accepted in the Nebraska vs. Wyoming lawsuit on the North Platte River, which
meets the litigation standard required in the scope of work.
A large format Summagraphics LCL digitizer provided the conversion from the manual
interpretation into a digital format. This device permits resolutions up to 1000 lines per
inch. The necessity to digitize every polygon in the states plane coordinate system
requires the equipment to be recalibrated for each map or anytime work is suspended.
For verification of the actual digitizing, comparisons were made between the
photography, satellite imagery, manual interpretation sheets, screen images, and
subsequent plots. A minimum of three checks was completed to ensure the
comprehensiveness of the final product.
The fundamental criterion used in the identification of irrigated lands is as follows:
"Irrigated land is all land that can be identified as receiving water induced by the works
of man." This interpretation criteria is consistent with that used in the Upper Colorado
River Compact and other recent mapping projects performed by Mr. O'Grady. A similar
definition which could also be used is found on page 58 of the North Platte River United
States Supreme Court Decree (Doherty, 1943): "The term `acreage irrigated' needs to be
clarified. Much of testimony relates to what may be referred to as the `right' acreage,
that is acreage having an existing water right. As used in this report, `acreage irrigated'
refers only to such `right' acreage as currently demanding and using water. The
maximum limit would be the greatest acreage irrigated in any one year, assuming a water
supply sufficient to permit full irrigation."
It is commonly recognized that all lands that are capable of being irrigated are not always
irrigated in a given year. A number of factors may influence the actual farming and
irrigation practices in a given year resulting in greater or fewer acres actually being
irrigated. These factors include the available water supply (e.g., many junior water rights
have no water available in some years or may be out-of-priority after the spring runoff
concludes in late May), local, regional and even national economic conditions (including
farm product prices, labor, real estate values, etc.), climatic conditions such as severe
weather, and the individual decisions that each landowner makes with respect to the use
of his/her land in a given year.
Upon completion of draft irrigated lands mapping, irrigated polygons were digitized in
Auto-Cad and transferred to Arc-Info via Arc-Cad software. Draft final mapping was
then plotted onto bond paper and distributed to the appropriate Wyoming State
Engineer's Office field personnel for field verification. For the Green River Basin, the
plots were sent to Jade Henderson, Division IV Superintendent. For the Little Snake
Basin, Randy Tullis, Division I Superintendent, acted as the contact point. Field
personnel delineated any changes on those maps that may have occurred since the date of
the satellite imagery. Most changes related to water transfers and/or abandonments since
the date of satellite acquisition.
Irrigated Lands Coverage
Figure 4 depicts all irrigated lands mapped (as described above), by quadrangle, within
the Green River, Little Snake, and Great Divide drainage basins during 1999. This
mapping includes a total of 128 - 7.5 minute quadrangles.
click to enlarge
Water Rights Attribution
Upon completion of mapping, Mr. Frank Carr performed water rights attribution for each
identified irrigated polygon. To assist the reader, Mr. Carr has provided a brief
description of water rights terminology specific to Wyoming's water law policy and
procedure in Appendix A of this memo.
The water rights attached to each individual irrigated polygon were abstracted from the
original records on file in the office to the Wyoming State Engineer and State Board of
Control located in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Once the water right information was abstracted
and identified, the polygon was assigned an attribute number which correlates with the
respective water right information. Then, a water right database for each quadrangle was
prepared. The water right database fields include the permit number, source, ditch or
well name, priority date, amount of appropriations (cfs-gpm), number of acres, type of
supply (original, additional, supplemental, secondary), and status (adjudicated,
unadjudicated, expired, and canceled). This information was formatted in a spreadsheet
which was then converted into the Arc-Info Dbase files.
Water rights attribution allows for the attachment of those water rights which are
associated with actual irrigation. Where multiple water rights were associated with a
single irrigated polygon, the rights were assigned according to their corresponding
priority date. At the same time or concurrent with the records abstraction, the points of
diversion for the irrigation ditches were plotted and attributed. This was the same for all
wells over 50 gpm.
Final GIS Products -Database
Irrigated Lands Database
The creation of the GIS coverages was performed by Mr. Jack Meena, P.E.. Mr. Meena
is a project engineer and a GIS manager for States West.
Along with acreage, four other items were added to the irrigated lands GIS coverages.
The first, the quadrangle name, was used to help locate the lands. The next item, island
identifier, is a simple flag field used to help sort out non-irrigated polygons inside
irrigated polygons. This item helps to efficiently eliminate lands that are not irrigated.
The third item is an ID field that allows for future linking to the permit database. The last
item, drainage, was added to assist in the determination of drainage basins when all the
final basin coverages are joined. The major basins are as follows:
- Big Sandy Creek
- Black's Fork River
- Green River above Fontenelle Reservoir
- Green River mainstem below Fontenelle Reservoir
- Ham's Fork River
- Henry's Fork River
- Little Snake River
- New Fork River
- Vermilion Creek, Red Creek, Salt Wells Creek
Water Rights Permit Coverage
Arc-Info point coverages were developed to associate permits with the mapped irrigated
lands. However, since the actual permit maps were not digitized most of the irrigated
polygons are associated with multiple permits. Although this process does not provide a
one-to-one relationship between irrigated lands and permits, a database has been created
of permits for those described lands demonstrating actual irrigation. The purpose for
developing this procedure was to allow the creation of an active permits database.
In addition to the values available on the actual permits, the database also contains a flag
field for programmer use. The permit information includes the following fields:
Additional Supply Type
Additional Supply Status
Additional Supply Permitted Acres
Flag - Used to remove redundant permits.
0 - Permit is included in totals
-999 - Permit is redundant.
Along with these database fields, several additional fields are included automatically in
the GIS software. These include the coordinates of each point. Again, those coordinates
are in the Wyoming West, Wyoming West Central, Wyoming East Central State Plane
Coordinate Systems in feet. The original coverages will maintain these fields; however,
the published coverages will eliminate them and will be placed in the geographic (latitude
and longitude) coordinate system.
Points of Diversion Coverage
In order to determine actual locations where permits divert from their source, the points
of diversion for most of the active permits were mapped and used to create this GIS
coverage. A few points of diversion for permits that irrigate less than 10 acres where not
mapped. The final coverage contains all the fields described in the permit section
excluding the flag fields.
Water Well Permit Coverage
Arc-Info point coverages were developed to map all ground water wells that have a
capacity over 50 gpm. This includes irrigation, industrial, and municipal wells that meet
the minimum output criteria. The database fields include the permit information as stated
above in the water rights permit coverage. When well location maps were unavailable,
the location of the wells was estimated from the quarter-quarter description on the permit.
From the GIS coverages, some statistics were extracted to show the overall
characteristics of the basin. Charts 1 through 5 show the relationship between the
number of points of diversion, active irrigation permits and actual irrigation among the
sub-basins in the entire basin. For actual acreages in each sub-basin, Table 1 further
dissects the basins into smaller drainages and provides totals for each basin. The
irrigation is broken into irrigated lands and sub-irrigated lands to allow for future
analysis. In addition, a check between groundwater and surface water irrigation was
performed. Throughout the entire study area, only one original supply groundwater
permit supplied actively irrigated lands. The permit called for 122.0 acres to be supplied.
There were numerous additional supply permits totaling 567.8 acres that served lands
supplied by surface water rights. Table 2 illustrates the totals and the number of wells
within each basin.
Chart 1- Points of Diversion
Chart 2 - Water Rights on Active Irrigation
Chart 3 - Total Irrigation by Sub-Basin
Chart 4 - Sub-Irrigated Lands
Chart 5 - Active Irrigation
Table 1 - Irrigated Land Totals by Sub-Basin.
|Basin ||1999 Irrigated Acres
|1999 Sub-Irrigated Lands |
|Green River above Fontenelle|
|Green River Above Fontenelle without the New Fork River|
|Beaver Creeks ||9,367 ||293
|Cottonwood Creek ||21,123 ||2,687
|Dry Piney Creek ||706 ||-
|Fontenelle Creek ||3,043 ||-
|Green River above Fontenelle Res. ||28,742 ||2,958
|Horse Creek ||14,549 ||2,823
|LaBarge Creek ||6,297 ||615
|Muddy Creek ||1,232 ||48
|Piney Creek ||34,046 ||4,645
|Slate Creek ||197 ||-
|Subtotals ||119,302 ||14,068
|New Fork River|
|Boulder Creeks ||10,375 ||535
|East Fork of New Fork R. ||5,304 ||192
|Muddy Creek - East Fork Trib. ||2,867 ||-
|New Fork River & Willow Creek ||24,267 ||1,329
|Pine and Pole Creek ||6,888 ||203
|Silver Creek ||747 ||-
|Subtotals ||50,447 ||2,259
|TOTALS ||169,750 ||16,327
|Big Sandy - Eden Farson|
|Big Sandy - Eden Farson ||21,318 ||1,188
|Birch Creek ||1,717 ||170
|Henry's Fork ||13,369 ||1,434
|TOTALS ||15,086 ||1,604
|Black's Fork River|
|Black's Fork without Hams Fork River|
|Little Muddy Creek ||877 ||-
|Muddy Creek Blacks Fork Trib. ||2,453 ||-
|Smith & Blacks Fork River ||58,007 ||13,836
|Subtotals ||61,337 ||13,836
|Hams Fork River|
|Hams Fork River ||9,942 ||345
|TOTALS ||71,279 ||14,181
|Main Stem Green River Below Fontenelle|
|Green River below Fontenelle Res. ||2,042 ||-
|Little Snake River|
|Little Snake above Baggs ||11,056 ||885
|Little Snake below Baggs ||4,427 ||591
|TOTALS ||15,483 ||1,477
|Vermilion Creek, Red Creek, Salt Wells Creek|
|Vermilion, Red, Salt Wells Creeks ||674 ||-
| BASIN TOTALS ||295,631.2 ||34,776.8
Table 2 - Ground Water Irrigated Lands by Sub-Basin.
|BASIN ||1999 Original Supply Active
|1999 Additional Supply Active |
| ||(acres) ||(acres)|
|Green River above Fontenelle ||-
||23.0 (2 wells)|
|Big Sandy - Eden Farson ||122.0 (1 well)
||236.8 (5 wells)|
|Henry's Fork ||-
||198.0 (9 wells)|
|Black's Fork River ||-
||110.0 (2 wells)|
|Main Stem Green River Below Fontenelle ||-
|Little Snake River ||-
|Vermilion, Red, Salt Wells Creeks ||-
|TOTALS ||122.0 (1 well)
||567.8 (18 wells)|
Appendix A - Wyoming Water Rights Terminology
Surplus Water: Whenever the supply of water in a stream reaches the point where there
is water available over and above the needed to fill all appropriations with a priority
senior to March 1, 1945, then this stream is in surplus flow condition. When surplus
flows are available, the water is to be divided proportionally among the senior rights up
to an additional 1.0 cfs to every 70 acres or 1.0 cfs to every 35 acres total supply. (W.S
Excess Water: Each water right with a priority date of post March 1, 1945 but pre
March 1, 1985 is entitled to 2.0 cfs for every 70 acres before any water is made available
to post March 1, 1985 water rights. If there is insufficient water to furnish 2.0 cfs to each
post March1, 1945 and pre March 1, 1985 water right, but more than enough to furnish
1.0 cfs to each of these rights, the excess water is divided among those rights on a pro-
rata basis. (W.S. 41-4-330)
Territorial Appropriation: This is an appropriation of water with a priority date prior
to statehood. These rights were filed under a system of statement of claims to water
under territorial law rather than a permit system. They were adjudicated after statehood
by the then-established State Board of control. No permits numbers were assigned to
those water rights, and they can be identified only by the proof number.
Direct Flow Appropriation: This is an appropriation of water that diverts from a
surface water source and is measured in cubic feet per second (cfs). The appropriation is
granted by the State Engineer and gives the appropriator the right to divert water as set
out in the permit. The statutes set the amount of diversion for irrigation at a rate of 1.0
cfs for every seventy (70) acres to be irrigated. (W.S. 41-3-317)
Unadjudicated Permit: This is a permit that has not been fully perfected. It can be in
the construction stage through the application of water to beneficial use. When the
permit is issued by the State Engineer, the applicant is given time limits to commence
construction, complete construction, and apply the water to beneficial use. While all this
is taking place the permit is considered as "unadjudicated".
Adjudicated Permit: This is a permit where the notice of completion of beneficial use
has been filed, proof of appropriation prepared, a field inspection made with the finding
that the facility is built within the terms of the permit, the proof advertised with no
protests, and the proof considered and allowed b the State board of Control. After these
items are completed, an order of the Board and the Certificate of Appropriation are
prepared, issued, and recorded in the court house of the respective county and made a
matter of record in the Tabulation of Adjudicated Water Rights.
Storage Right (Reservoirs): This is a permit that allows an appropriator to store or
impound for beneficial purposes unappropriated water. Water can be stored for
irrigation, stock, municipal, fish, recreational, and other purposes, provided that a permit
is secured from the State Engineer. Upon completion of reservoir construction, the
storage right is considered as being put to beneficial use. (W.S. 41-3-301)
Secondary Application: A Secondary permit may be secured by filing with the State
Engineer a secondary application solely for the purposes of attaching water stored for
irrigation purposes to specific lands. The application requests that a certain number of
acre-feet of stored water be allocated to specific lands. Once the application is granted, te
allocated water cannot be used on any other lands or for any other purpose.
Supplemental Supply: direct flow water from a different source and different point of
diversion to augment or supplement the available water for an
existing appropriation (water right) for which the original source does not provide a full
supply constitute a supplemental supply. The amount of supplemental water which may
be diverted is the amount available, in priority, to bring the total water diverted from all
sources up to the appropriated amount of 1.0 cubic foot per second (cfs) for every 70
acres to be irrigated. (W.S. 41-3-113)
Court Decrees: A small number of water rights were confirmed (adjudicated) by court
decrees prior to the creation of the State Board of Control.
Original Supply Groundwater: Groundwater is appropriated in gallons per minute
(gpm). Original supply is a water right attached to land or uses where there is no other
water right of record. It is the first priority water right attached to and to be used on the
Additional Supply Groundwater: Additional supply is additional water to lands or
uses which already have a valid existing water right. It can be additional water to surface
water irrigation and/or groundwater irrigation. Additional groundwater is measured in
gallons per minute (gpm).
Unadjudicated Groundwater: A valid groundwater permit (well permit) which is in the
process between the issuance of the permit and completion of beneficial use, I.e.,
construction, pump testing, application of water to beneficial use, mapping, and filing the
necessary paper work to begin the adjudication process is considered unadjudicated.
Adjudicated Groundwater: A groundwater permit (well permit) where notice of
completion of beneficial use has been filed, the adjudication map prepared and filed,
proof of appropriation prepared, inspected and advertised with no protests received, proof
considered by the State Board of Control and allowed, Certificate of Appropriation
prepared, issued, and recorded in the respective county court house is considered
adjudicated. The appropriation is made a matter of record in the Tabulation of
Adjudicated Water Rights.
The following is a list of documents relied upon in the preparation of this technical memo
and associated data:
Carr, Frank, 1999-2000, "Water Rights Attribution Mapping", Maps and spreadsheets.
Doherty, Michael J., Special Master, 1943, "Supreme Court of the United States, No. 7
Original, October Term, 1943."
Space Imaging, 1997-1999, Landsat/IRS Satellite Imagery.
States West Water Resources, 1998, "Irrigated Lands Mapping - North Platte River
Basin, Wyoming," prepared for the Wyoming Attorney General's Office.
Wyoming State Engineer's Office, Original water right records for surface and
Wyoming Water Development Commission, 1983-1984, Color Infra-Red Photography,
Statewide Photography Program.
Wyoming Water Planning Program, 1971, "Report #7 Irrigated Lands Inventory for
Wyoming," prepared by Hunter, Trelease, Bilyeu.
Wyoming Water Planning Program, 1971, "Report #9 Water & Related Land Resources
of the Platte River Basin, Wyoming."