Recognizing the importance of water in Wyoming—and the fact that states throughout the West expect more frequent shortages of freshwater in the coming years—Governor Matt Mead is developing a statewide water strategy. There are 59 potential initiatives that resulted from numerous listening sessions hosted around the state last fall. These have been published and the state is seeking input from citizens to help narrow that number to just a few that will receive priority. Until August 4th, you can provide your input via four short surveys distributed by Governor Mead’s office.
The Outdoor Council believes Wyoming needs a strategy that ensures water is available to future generations, but also one that is farsighted enough to conserve the fish, wildlife, and other resources we enjoy today. That’s why we hope you’ll join us in (1) voicing opposition to two initiatives that would be especially bad for Wyoming and (2) supporting some of the better possible water strategy initiatives.
Two Dam Proposals On The Upper Green River Would Be Bad for Wyoming
Although the state must identify ways to ensure the availability of future water supplies, the Outdoor Council believes water conservation and protection should be our focus.
New dam construction doesn’t make sense for Wyoming. Good dam locations are limited by geography and today the most viable locations have already been developed or are off-limits for good reasons. In fact, many states these days are dealing with the long-term problems of poorly sited dams and are now working to remove them. Yet, there are proposals in the Governor’s water strategy to build several new dam projects in Wyoming. We are most concerned about two large projects considered for the iconic Upper Green River: One near the headwaters of the Green, at the foot of the Wind River Range and the other at Warren Bridge, near Pinedale.
You can let Governor Mead know that you oppose these proposed dams by CLICKING HERE TO TAKE THE GOVERNOR’S WATER DEVELOPMENT SURVEY. You’ll be able to rank the Warren Bridge Dam Permitting and Green River Lakes Reservoir as well as other dam proposals as “not favorable” (1 on the scale). You can also send your own personal comments to the Governor’s Office until August 4th.
To read more about these proposals and the risks they pose to fish, wildlife, and iconic landscapes in northwest Wyoming, click HERE.
Several Initiatives are Worthy of Support
The Outdoor Council has highlighted four of several measures—these are the ones we proposed to Governor Mead during community listening sessions last year—that we believe are among the initiatives most likely to create a proactive, conservation-based water management strategy capable of adding security to the future of Wyoming’s resources. These include:
- Unified Public Database — All water quality and quantity data should be available in a single location and database. This initiative would require legislative funding and guidance to bring all water and climate data from agencies on quality, quantity, surface and groundwater into a single database.
- Groundwater Analysis and Control — This initiative would seek changes in rule or statute so that areas would automatically become Groundwater Control Areas if groundwater use outstrips recharge It would also result in cooperative studies, led by the State Engineer, to explore the agreements, assurances, regulations, and markets that can be leveraged to manage use and demand within the areas.
- Temporary Use Protection Policies — This initiative would develop appropriate mechanisms to increase flexibility for temporary use transfers without the risk of a given water right holder losing his/her right. Temporary water use agreements can only be utilized for 4 years due to the risk of abandonment. This initiative would protect the original quantity and use for a longer duration as long as the short-term use was truly temporary and resulted in no harm to other users.
- Credible Climate Weather and Stream Flow Data — Attention to climate and water will increase over time. In order to prepare for questions and challenges, Wyoming needs robust scientific data. This initiative would result in work to fund additional climate and stream flow data collection throughout the state.
Please help us by taking Governor Mead’s Water Management Survey and rating these four initiatives immediately above as “highly favorable” (10 on the scale).
You can view the rest of the possible initiatives here, where you’ll find other positive measures such as: Drought and Climate Variability Planning, Surface Water Recharge Areas (underground water storage), an Ecosystem Services Pilot, a Watershed Management Incentives Program, and a Major Conveyance Task Force Project (to repair leaking/malfunctioning/outdated irrigation infrastructure).
Your input can be given on each of the 59 possible initiatives by taking all four surveys, as well as by writing to the Governor’s office. Comment and survey responses will be accepted until August 4th.