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Wyoming and the Colorado River
When the Wyoming Water Development Commission and members of the Select Water Committee of the Wyoming Legislature raised questions related to our rights and abilities regarding the Colorado River in late 2015, it was fitting that this office step up and offer to create a document to address the issue of Wyoming’s role in the management of the Colorado River. That document can be found at the link below. It is my sincere hope that having this Law of the River summary, and its Wyoming effects, distilled down to essential components and hopefully written for a wide audience, will be helpful as these and other groups and individuals forge Wyoming’s future in the basin.
The intent of this Report is to inform its readers about the current issues on the river, Wyoming’s uses of the river, and to describe the varied laws, compacts, decrees, operating plans, and other instruments that have come to be as uses of the Colorado River Basin have matured and evolved since the early 1900s. It also discusses the effects of those instruments in and on Wyoming. What is our role as a Colorado River Basin State? What benefits do we get from the compacts on the river, and are we also constrained by them? Should we care about uses of water in Mexico? Should we care about the salinity of the water diverted at the All-American Canal in California? Might endangered fish in Utah affect water use in Wyoming?
Our hope is to delve into these important questions, and more, in a way that educates water managers, appropriators, our citizenry and governmental officials across the state. The Colorado is a complex river basin, often misunderstood and the subject of many an urban myth. In the coming pages, we hope you’ll learn more about this marvelous resource and Wyoming’s place at the table.
Pilot System Water Conservation Program RFP Released
October 10, 2016
The Upper Colorado River Commission (UCRC) has issued another Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Pilot System Water Conservation Program for the Upper Colorado River Basin. This RFP is for consideration of projects to be implemented in 2017. Facing declining levels in Lakes Powell and Mead, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and four major water providers that depend on the Colorado River Basin supplies have made available $1.8 million for use in the Upper Colorado River Basin to fund the Pilot System Water Conservation Program. This program is designed to develop and test tools that could potentially be used as part of a drought contingency plan to help protect storage within the Colorado River basin. This is the third round of proposals that the UCRC, funding partners and Wyoming State Engineer’s Office will consider. All users of Colorado River water (Green and Little Snake River basins) are encouraged to consider developing a pilot project for consideration under this RFP.
State Engineer’s Office Begins Auditing Compliance in Laramie County Control Area
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The Wyoming State Engineer’s Office (SEO) will begin auditing compliance with the Order of the State Engineer - Laramie County Control Area, dated April 1, 2015, beginning October 1, 2016.
Under terms of the Order, prior to use in water year 2017, which begins October 1, 2016, all irrigation, municipal, industrial, and miscellaneous use wells within the Laramie County Control Area completed in the High Plains Aquifer shall be fitted with functional and accurate flow meters properly sized for the flow rate of the well pump and approved by the Water Division I Superintendent. All such meters must be kept in proper working order and maintained to the Superintendent’s satisfaction. Wells without an approved and properly functioning flow meter shall not be pumped after September 30, 2016. Detailed questions on flow meter requirements can be directed to Mr. Brian Pugsley, Water Division I Superintendent, at 307-532-2248, or to the Ground Water Division of the SEO at 307-777-6163.
Also under terms of the Order, no later than November 15 of each year appropriators must deliver monthly and annual reports on total groundwater production for the immediately prior water year for each metered well to the SEO Ground Water Division on forms provided by the SEO. For example, total monthly and annual well production for any such well during water year 2017 (October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017) shall be delivered to the SEO Ground Water Division by November 15, 2017.
Additionally, appropriators of all unadjudicated, non time-limited, irrigation, municipal, industrial, and miscellaneous use underground water appropriations (including enlargements) developed in the High Plains Aquifer within the Laramie County Control Area must adjudicate their appropriations by November 30, 2017. Wells that are not adjudicated by this date will be tagged, locked, and foreclosed from use until adjudication is complete. If you question whether your well is subject to any of the above requirements, you may contact the SEO at the numbers above.
Appropriators are reminded that failure to comply with the Order could result in prosecution under Wyoming Statute § 41-3-616 and, if found guilty, a fine not to exceed $1,250.00 for each day of noncompliance after notice, or result in cancellation or suspension of the water right after notice and opportunity to be heard under Wyoming Statute § 41-3-937.
State Engineer Orders Corrective Control in the Laramie County Control Area
Responding to mounting
concerns over increasing development and use of groundwater resources in the
Control Area (LCCA), State Engineer
Pat Tyrrell issued an order on April 1, 2015 that will guide groundwater development
that area for at least the next five years.
The mission of the Wyoming State Engineer's Office and Board of Control is to
provide for the general supervision and protection of both inter- and intra-state waters of Wyoming. This includes the appropriation, distribution and
application to beneficial use of water as provided under the prior appropriation
doctrine, and to maintain the flexibility within that framework to meet the
changing needs of the citizens of Wyoming. The State Engineer's Office collects,
analyzes, maintains and provides water related information for ensuring the
appropriate management and regulation of Wyoming's water resources.