Wyoming State Water Plan, Wyoming Water Development Office
Rafting on Snake River Lake Marie, Snowy Mountains Wyoming Wind River Range picture

Green River Basin Advisory Group
Meeting Record
Community Center, Farson WY
February 15, 2000


Facilitator Joe Lord welcomed the group and the meeting was opened at 1:00 pm. 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 ongoing efforts to begin the planning process in Northeast Wyoming. To kick off the water planning efforts in the Powder / Tongue and Northeast Wyoming, open houses were held in Buffalo on January 25th and on January 26th in Newcastle. Jon also mentioned that the omnibus planning bill, which would fund these studies, was progressing through the legislature.

The future meetings schedule for the BAG was discussed. The following dates and locations were set:

        Date			Town			Time		Location
	March 14, 2000		Rock Springs		1:00		TBA
	April 11, 2000		Pinedale		1:00		TBA
	May 9, 2000		Baggs			5:00		TBA
	June 13, 2000		Marbleton		5:00		TBA

Times for the April (and subsequent) meeting will be reviewed at the March meeting in Rock Springs in the event the BAG determines a change is desirable.

Consultant Update

Pat Tyrrell of States West gave a brief project update. He indicated that water right attribution is almost complete. Because of the complexity of some of the water rights, this work is behind schedule. However, the overall project schedule is not in jeopardy, and the time spent on developing accurate attribution information is important.

Irrigated Lands Mapping - Mr. Tyrrell then introduced Jack Meena of States West, who presented an update on the irrigation mapping and water right attribution work.

Mr. Meena presented an on-screen example of the irrigated lands polygon work and how the water rights are attributed using ArcView. The Little Snake River basin was used in the example. Diversions are attributed so that by clicking in Arc View, the user can view water right information associated with each point. Irrigated polygons are also linked to diversion points so the water rights information for each polygon can be viewed by clicking on the polygon in Arc View. Water rights are listed so the user can see permit numbers and permitted flow rates, and can tell if it is an original, supplemental or secondary supply. While overall polygon acreages are given, the attribution does not assign individual irrigated acreage amounts to individual water rights. Wells are similarly attributed, although non-irrigation wells will not be tied to irrigation polygons.

Questions asked of Mr. Meena were as follows:

One questioner asked to clarify the coverage along Muddy Creek (tributary to the Little Snake). Upon closer viewing, the coverage in the upper reaches of Muddy Creek did appear to include the lands under question.

A second questioner asked how diversions in Colorado with Wyoming rights were handled (and conversely, Colorado rights served by diversions in Wyoming). The response was that those performing the modeling were aware of the Colorado rights of interest, and that all diversions would need to be handled to model the river in a hydrologically appropriate manner. However, uses and depletions would use the Wyoming rights only. This is an issue because of the way the Little Snake River straddles the state line, crossing back and forth between the states many times before finally staying in Colorado.

A third questioner asked how unattached secondary permits were handled if the lands they serve could vary from one season or year to the next. Mr. Meena responded by explaining that is one reason the attribution is complicated, because all unattached permits have to be attributed to include all lands to which they could potentially be applied.

Questions of the Consultant Presentation in general included:

One questioner asked if, in the consultants contacts with federal agencies regarding their future plans, it had been specifically asked if issues existed relating to the reserved doctrine or reserved water rights (e.g. reserved USFS rights or reserved tribal rights). The response was that our questions were posed in a general manner, asking for any future plans, but that the federal contacts could be revisited and asked the "reserved" question specifically.

A second questioner asked if, in the groundwater work the effects of drilling deep oil wells on shallow water wells was being looked at. This is apparently an issue in the upper basin where drilling is suspected to interrupt the performance of adjacent shallow water wells. The response was that such an issue is not being looked at specifically as it appears to be more a regulatory issue. The plan will be looking more at the aquifers themselves and well production from those horizons.

Local Presentations

History of the Eden Valley Irrigation District - Ms. Shirley DeLambert presented a history of the Eden Valley. A copy of her full presentation is available from the WWDC. A list of highlights from that presentation include:

Mr. Dana Hadley followed with a brief operational description of the Project.

Ms. Karen Johnson of the NRCS field office provided an overview of the salinity control measures employed in the Eden area. Highlights of her presentation follow:

One question posed of Ms. Johnson was why the project wetlands were not considered jurisdictional for purposes of mitigation. Ms. Johnson responded that because it is a voluntary federal program involving private interests, the wetlands are not required to strictly meet Corps of Engineers criteria. However, there is ongoing monitoring to evaluate wetland establishment.

Other Presentations

Mr. Jack Smith of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Water Quality Division made a presentation concerning Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) regulations. Highlights of his presentation follow:

One question asked of Mr. Smith dealt with how tributaries of a Class I stream are handled. Mr. Smith responded that an undesignated stream falls under the same classification as the stream it enters. A "use attainability analysis" can be performed to change the classification of such a tributary stream.

A second questioner wondered whether one could always move an impaired water body back to a condition where it is within the standards. Mr. Smith responded that some impairment may be irreversible, or that returning to within standards may be difficult.

Programmatic Biological Opinion on the Yampa River - A final presentation was made regarding the proposed Programmatic Biological Opinion (PBO) on the Yampa River. According to John Shields, a PBO is in the works for the Yampa following issuance of a non-jeopardy opinion for a 15-mile reach of the upper Colorado River. This "umbrella" opinion, which would be issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service, would have the effect of satisfying Section 7 consultation requirements that may be required for future development in that basin. The PBO is of interest here because the Little Snake River is tributary to the Yampa and would be covered thereunder.

A requirement of the PBO is the development of current and future depletions to the system. The water planning work (irrigated lands mapping, attribution and modeling) would serve as Wyoming's statement of the hydrologic condition of the Little Snake basin. Since the data are not needed until approximately July 6, there is little effect on the schedule of the water plan.

The next speaker, Larry Hicks, followed John's talk with the concern that care needs to be taken when submitting the requested data for use in the PBO. The PBO issuance may come with "sideboards" that further restrict development, or allow development only with certain stipulations. Mr. Pat O'Toole also echoed skepticism of the federal intent by describing some administrative impacts seen by the High Savery Project. He also indicated because the Game and Fish have impacts on the mitigation of development projects, he would like to see them attending the BAG meetings.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.