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

BAG Meeting No. 4
Meeting Notes
June 26, 6:00 PM
Town Hall
Diamondville, WY

The meeting generally followed the format of the agenda distributed by the WWDO:

1. Introductions

Earl Degroot, Facilitator on the Planning Team, introduced the team and presented several logistical details about the meeting.

2. Description and purpose of meeting

Earl presented a power point slideshow outlining the purpose of the planning process, explaining the handouts at the meeting, and the methods through which the State and Planning Team was collecting input. That presentation is available at waterplan.state.wy.us

3. Consultant update

Murray Schroeder presented information and exhibits' showing the progress the consulting team has made making population projections in the basin. That information is available at waterplan.state.wy.us.

Information he presented included a couple of figures showing population projections and several figures presenting the forecasted water needs for the municipal, industrial and domestic water use sectors.

4. Presentations

An important goal of the BAG Update process is to advance the BAG's identification and discussion regarding strategies for resolving basin water use issues. The previous 2001 plan identified many issues, but did not address in depth how those issues might be resolved. With a goal of identifying strategies, this and future BAG meetings are designed to have public presentations from a variety of BAG members. The presentations are intended to present the BAG member's ideas about what their specific challenges are and what some of the strategies might be for addressing the challenges. By design, this public meeting setting is intended to foster an open discussion about strategies.

To this end, this meeting had two presentations, each followed by a strategies discussion in which ideas were recorded by the planning team. Those ideas were recorded on large paper flip charts (photos attached).

Presentations were as follows:

A. Kememrer/Diamondville Joint Powers Board, Mary Crosby presented information on the challenges that the community is facing, including the following items:

Mary presented the fact that the Joint Powers Board has applied to the WWDC for a Master Plan, which was the primary strategy they had in mind for addressing most of the above issues. The study is just now getting started.

B. Mike Purcell, Director, Water Development Commission, presented on the general subjects of water planning and reservoir storage as a strategy for resolving some water supply issues. An outline of the material he presented follows:

  1. Master Plans need to reflect the growth desire of communities as well as the generally accepted idea that open space is valued in Wyoming.

    Master Plans need to focus on identifying rates structures that can pay for the operation of the water utilities.

  2. Storage Strategies

    WWDC has changed operating criteria recently, and now they will potentially pick up a greater share of the costs of reservoir projects, in contrast to older criteria that specified maximum amounts at which WWDC would participate.

    The WWDC is now looking for storage partners. The WWDC is very much interested in discussing partnerships with folks that want projects to help themselves.

    Mike stated that reservoir storage will only sell if the project has identified uses. Reservoirs can not be speculative.

    The USBR and WWDC are working on a MOA to define administration of carry over water from year to year in Fontenell. Of the 120,000 act feet of storage, only 46,000 ac-feet have been sold.

    Buffalo Bill reservoir is a case of a reservoir where all of the water in the reservoir can not be used most of the time and that others, including recreational interests, have come to rely on the benefits of the reservoir. This tends to create problems when the WWDC wants to sell some water.

    Lake Desmit is another reservoir, whose uses are becoming controlled by interests that were not involved in the original intent of the project.

    The number one benefit of the basin planning process is to provide a network of folks to work on issues and strategies for resolving issues.

  3. Viva Naughten

    Mike offered several thoughts on the current state of affairs with this local reservoir, owned by PacifiCorp.

    • WWDC would like to be a minority partner to own some portion of the proposed enlargement
    • PacifiCorp may not be as aggressive now on an enlargement because of the political carbon footprint issue and coal fired generation.
    • To enlarge the reservoir may require that wetlands habitat for moose is provided.
    • In November 2008, three open houses will be held in the basin to present the states ideas regarding the most promising of reservoir sites in the basin (top 50).

    Finally, Mike commented on the preference of the WWDC to do business with Irrigation Districts as opposed to Conservancy Districts. The advantages of an irrigation district are that there are legal boundaries and loan collateral.

    C. General Audience Participation

    In addition to listening to the issues and strategies presentations from above, the meeting included a broader discussion of the issues and strategies in the basin and these included:

    1. Issue: Water quality impacts on drinking water from oil and gas drilling.

      The strategies identified that might help included:

      • Improve well drilling stewardship
      • Mandate County Government Oversight
      • Education
    2. Issue: Hams Fork Impairments..pH, fecal, turbidity and how these affect the water treatment process.

      A strategy that was identified was to evaluate reservoir release options (i.e. releasing from different reservoir elevations) to improve stream water quality

    3. Issue: Shortages

      Strategies included water recycling, treatment of poor quality water, and promoting policy that allows these resources to be used.

    4. Issue: Complacency, and how not being active is not helping

      Public awareness was identified as a large strategy for addressing the issue. Tool kits were given as an example of outreach that could be used to educate.

    5. Issue: Instream Flow impacts on reducing the ability to store water. Actually, the "instream Flow Impacts" is a phrase that means "and other similar institutional and social changes". The discussion centered on the fact that this is real, but whether or not it is a problem was also mentioned. No specific strategies were offered to address the issue.

    6. Issue: Funding process and levels of funding

      The strategies identified by the audience included using WWDC planning process to the degree possible to evaluate funding alternatives.

    7. Finally, the last comment/subject of this session was related to the concept that identifying sub-surface water storage should be pursued by the WWDC.

    D. Steve Wolff, SEO; Update on Colorado River Basin Topics

    Steve was present and spoke briefly to the group regarding the status of the studies he was managing in the basin, although he did not have much to report.