LARAMIE COUNTY GROUNDWATER CONTROL AREA
ADVISORY BOARD MEETING SCHEDULED
The Laramie County Control Area Advisory Board will meet January 26, 2017, at 1:00 P.M. in the State Engineer's Office Conference Room, 1st Floor West, Herschler Building, 122 West 25th Street, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Agenda items include approval of the August 16, 2016 minutes, consideration of an application from Joann C. Odendahl (T.F. No. U.W. 44-9-227, Enl. Christensen #2), and the Board of Control Petition for the Town of Pine Bluffs (Docket No. I-U-2016-4-3) for change in location. For further information, contact Sheri Culver, State Engineer's Offic, Ground Water Division, at (307) 777-6688.
OPENING: GROUNDWATER ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The State Engineer's Office has a current opening for the Groundwater Advisory Committee for Water Division 4 (lands drained by the Green, Bear, and Snake River drainages located west of the Continental Divide that includes ithe western portion of the Red Desert Basin).
A Groundwater Advisory Committee, comprised of three persons, represents each of the state’s four water divisions. Committee members are appointed by the Governor, and represent the landowners and water users of their respective water division, the geographical areas of the division, and the public interest. Committee members serve a six-year term.
The function of the four Committees is to assist and advise the State Engineer and Board of Control regarding policies that affect groundwater, and in developing solutions to groundwater problems in their respective water divisions. The Committees also provide advice and assistance to the Control Area Advisory Boards, and call and supervise the election of the members of the Control Area Advisory Boards. The Groundwater Advisory Committees operate in conjunction with the State Engineer’s Office.
Several Committee members' terms are due to expire September 30, 2017, including two in Water Division 1, two in Water Division 2, one in Water Division 3, and two additional positions in Water Division 4.
If you are interested in applying for any of the four Committees, please contact Tatum Soto by calling (307) 777-5647, or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like additional information on the Groundwater Advisory Committees, please contact Lisa Lindemann (Administrator, Ground Water Division) at (307) 777-5063, or email@example.com
LICENSED WATER WELL DRILLING CONTRACTORS REQUIRED TO SUBMIT FORM U.W. 6
(STATEMENT OF COMPLETION AND DESCRIPTION OF WELL OR SPRING)
Information provided on completed U.W. 6 Forms, or "Statement of Completion and Description of Well or Spring" forms, allows the State Engineer's Office (SEO) to collect and maintain accurate details regarding the construction of water wells.
In support of the Licensing Board's efforts to require licensed water well drilling contractors to submit the forms to the SEO, the State Engineer requested and received the advice and consent of the Board of Control to require such reports on November 18, 2015.
Effective September 9, 2016, licensed water well drilling contractors are required to submit completed U.W. 6 Forms to the SEO within 90 days of well completion. Wyoming Statute defines completion of a water well as "...when it is possible to install a pump and pump water. In the case of an artesian well, completion is the time when the drill rig is moved off of the drilling site.
Montana Cancels Tongue River Reservoir Call
On April 19, 2016, the State of Montana made a call under the Yellowstone River Compact to fill Tongue River Reservoir. That call applied to Wyoming water rights with a priority date later than January 1, 1950. Since Montana made its call, the Wyoming
State Engineer’s Office has communicated with Tongue River Basin water users, monitored water use in Wyoming, and curtailed water use by post-1950 water rights. On May 2, 2016, Montana cancelled its call. Accordingly, any water user in Wyoming’s Tongue River Basin may use water in accordance with the user’s water right until or unless otherwise regulated or notified by a Wyoming Water Hydrographer/Commissioner.
State Engineer Pat Tyrrell said that unlike last year when Montana cancelled the call after Tongue River Reservoir filled, Montana officials this year determined, under current snowpack and runoff conditions, that the reservoir will fill without continuing the call for regulation. “In that regard, I very much appreciate Montana’s proactive decision and their informing us so that Wyoming appropriators with post-compact rights wouldn’t be further curtailed under an interstate regulatory event. We are glad it appears Tongue River Reservoir will fill, which is beneficial to water users in both states.”
Governor Appoints David Schroeder as Division II Water Superintendent
Governor Matt Mead has appointed David Schroeder as the new Water Division II Water Superintendent in Sheridan. Schroeder, who worked for the State Engineer’s Office Water Division II from 2005 to 2014, replaces Carmine Loguidice, who retired March 8th with over 28 years service. Schroeder will start April 11, 2016.
The Division II Superintendent is based in Sheridan, WY and oversees water administration in the Tongue River, the Belle Fourche, the Powder River, Cheyenne River and all tributaries within those drainages.
“Water Division II has unique challenges, for example operations under the Yellowstone River Compact following the litigation with Montana. I look forward to David’s contributions in this matter and others,” Governor Mead said.
The Superintendent supervises water commissioners’ administration and regulation of waters and is a member of the constitutionally created State Board of Control, which is responsible for adjudicating and modifying Wyoming water rights.
State Engineer Patrick Tyrrell congratulated Schroeder on his appointment. “David played an important role in the highly visible MT v. WY lawsuit. That experience I’m sure helped prepare him for what will be a very important role moving forward in Division II,” Tyrrell stated. “He is well qualified and I welcome his contributions to Water Division II.” Tyrrell asks that constituents in Water Division II who have water-related questions for this office contact Mr. Schroeder or his staff at the Sheridan office at 307-674-7012.
Press Release PDF
Governor Mead Names Three to Colorado River Positions
Governor Matt Mead has selected three Wyoming citizens to serve in positions that support Wyoming’s participation in the management of the Colorado River. The three are being named, in part, to fill positions that were previously held by Dan Budd, who passed away in September.
Mr. Randy Bolgiano and Mr. Keith Burron have been named as Alternate Wyoming Commissioners to the Upper Colorado River Commission (UCRC). Where previously Wyoming had two Alternate Commissioners, there now will be three due to the rising importance to Wyoming of water supply and use issues in this basin. The UCRC is an interstate, administrative agency established by the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact of 1948 (Upper Basin Compact). UCRC members consist of a Commissioner representing each of the four Upper Division States of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming (Upper Division States) and a Commissioner appointed by the President of the United States who serves as the Chair of the Commission. The Commission assists the Upper Division States in developing their apportionments of Colorado River water pursuant to the Colorado River Compact of 1922 and the Upper Basin Compact, and has specific responsibilities to assist in implementing the Upper Basin Compact consistent with laws of the Upper Division States. Benjamin Bracken of Green River continues to serve in the third Alternate Commissioner position.
Mr. Bolgiano is a rancher from Boulder, Wyoming and has been active in the Green River Basin on water and other natural resource activities for more than two decades. Mr. Burron is an attorney for Crowley Fleck in Cheyenne focusing predominantly on water rights, natural resources, public lands, water quality, oil and gas, and regulatory matters. Mr. Burron has been an active member of the Colorado River Water Users’ Association for almost 20 years years. The two will serve on the Commission along with Wyoming’s Commissioner, State Engineer Patrick Tyrrell, and Ben Bracken of Green River, also an Alternate Commissioner.
Governor Mead has also named Mr. Chad Espenscheid of Big Piney to serve as one of three Wyoming representatives on the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum (Forum). Mr. Espenscheid is a rancher and small business owner. Created in 1973, the Forum is an organization of the seven Colorado River Basin states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The purposes of the Forum are to coordinate salinity control efforts among the states, coordinate with federal agencies on the implementation of the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program, work with Congress on the authorization and funding of the Program, act to disseminate information on salinity control and otherwise promote efforts to reduce the salt loading to the Colorado River.
For questions, please contact Mr. Steve Wolff at 307-777-1942 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Montana Cancels Tongue River Reservoir Call
21 May, 2015
On April 10, 2015, the State of Montana made a call under the Yellowstone River Compact to fill Tongue River Reservoir. That call applied to Wyoming water rights with a priority date later than January 1, 1950. Since Montana made its call, the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office has communicated with Tongue River Basin water users, monitored water use in Wyoming, and curtailed water use by post-1950 water rights. On May 21, 2015, Montana cancelled its call. Accordingly, any water user in Wyoming’s Tongue River Basin may use water in accordance with the user’s water right until or unless otherwise regulated or notified by a Wyoming Water Hydrographer/Commissioner.
Governor Appoints Kevin Payne as Division 4 Water Superintendent
Governor Matt Mead has appointed Kevin Payne as the new Division 4 Water Superintendent. Payne served as Assistant Superintendent of Water Division 4 and replaces Jade Henderson who retired February 18, 2015. Payne has nearly 16 years of service with the State Engineer’s Office.
The Division 4 Superintendent is based in Cokeville, WY and oversees water administration in the Snake River, the Bear River, the Green River and all tributaries within those drainages.
The Superintendent supervises water commissioners’ administration and regulation of waters and is a member of the constitutionally created State Board of Control, which is responsible for adjudication of Wyoming water rights.
State Engineer Patrick Tyrrell congratulated Payne on his appointment. “Kevin’s service to the agency and our constituents has been outstanding and I look forward to working with him in his important new role,” Tyrrell stated. “He is well qualified and I welcome his contributions to Water Division 4.” Tyrrell asks that constituents in Water Division 4 who have water-related questions for this office contact Mr. Payne. You may continue to contact the Cokeville office at 307-279-3441.
Big Horn Symposium
For those interested in live streaming of the Big Horn Symposium being held in Riverton on September 11th and 12th, 2014, please click the following links.
Big Horn General Adjudication Lawsuit
On Friday, September 5, 2015 in Worland, District Court Judge Robert Skar signed the final documents related to the closing of the Big Horn General Adjudication lawsuit. The three decrees signed include one on records retention, one closing the Phase III portion of the general adjudication, and the final overall Big Horn decree. While appeals of various aspects of Friday’s actions may come forth, the final decree signals a close to some 37 years of litigation and adjudication efforts.
Phase I of the case dealt with the quantification of Tribal Awards on the Wind River Indian Reservation. In total, those awards included approximately 290,000 acre-feet for presently or historically irrigated lands, and 209,000 acre-feet of “futures” awards for five identified but yet-to-be-constructed irrigation projects. All Phase I awards were given a priority date of July 3, 1868, and comprise now the most senior rights in Division III. With irrigated agriculture as the primary use for Tribal awards, the court also recognized subsumed uses including stock, domestic, municipal and commercial purposes. Phase II of the case adjudicated other federal non-tribal rights, such as those used on national forests and BLM lands. The Phase II reserved rights have priorities that range from dating back to the creation of the Shoshone and Big Horn National Forests to as recent as 1982-1983. Phase III included adjudication of state water rights of various priorities that were unadjudicated as of 1984. Included in Phase III was adjudication of over 4,600 surface water permits, including permit 7300 serving Midvale, Riverton Valley, and LeClair Irrigation Districts. Permit 7300 is the single largest direct flow permit in the State of Wyoming. In addition, Phase III also included numerous groundwater rights.
“The case took so long because of its sheer size,” noted State Engineer Pat Tyrrell. “Between the three phases, the adjudication efforts needed for roughly a quarter of the state, and awaiting the outcome of seven Wyoming Supreme Court decisions, it simply couldn’t occur much quicker. A similar general adjudication of the Snake River Basin in Idaho took about the same amount of time, and they are just finishing up too.”
Tyrrell also indicated that a number of positive things come from the process and the final decree. “All state water rights in the Wind/Big Horn River system with priority dates of 1984 and earlier, if not adjudicated by that time, now are. That’s a big deal. This is the only water division in the state having gone through a full general adjudication, so its records have been largely cleaned up. Likewise, the priority and quantity of all federal tribal and non-tribal rights are now known. The uncertainty over what comprised these rights has been removed.”
Looking forward, the final decree means that adjudications formerly sent to the district court for interlocutory decisions will now revert to the more traditional Board of Control evaluation and adjudication. Changes in existing rights and awards will also go before the Board. In performing necessary administrative functions post-decree, the State Engineer’s Office will continue to manage water in cooperation with the office of the Tribal Water Engineer.
Statement of Completion and Description of Well or Spring (U.W. 6 Forms)
As many folks are learning, the State Engineer’s Office has developed an online permitting system called e-Permit. Now in its seventh year, this system allows appropriators to research water rights, but also allows them to submit applications as well as Statement of Completion (S.C.) Forms (Form U.W.6). Furthermore, e-Permit also provides a mechanism for water well contractors to submit S.C. Forms. The S.C. Form reports information regarding well construction to the State Engineer’s Office which is critical for our understanding of groundwater appropriations within Wyoming.
In general, e-Permit contains fields which are analogous to the fields on our paper forms; however, e-Permit requires certain fields to be filled in before accepting an electronic form. These fields were identified early in development of e-Permit and were chosen based on historic recognition of the minimum basic information necessary to describe Ground Water rights within Wyoming.
The Ground Water Division (Division) still accepts paper forms and they continue to outpace electronic forms. Over the past several years, the Division has accepted paper forms which do not necessarily contain all information which an e-Permit submittal requires. Instead, the Division preferred to contact appropriators to obtain the missing data. Unfortunately, this data collection effort consumes time which should be devoted to processing the forms, and the data collection effort has created a two-year backlog for S.C. Form review. This is especially unfair to those appropriators submitting complete forms. All groundwater appropriators deserve a timely response to submittals and a timely review of S.C. Forms.
Consequently, the Division will no longer be accepting paper S.C. Forms which do not contain the minimum information required by the e-Permit system. If the Division receives S.C. Forms which are not complete, they will be returned to the sender with a letter explaining the required fields. This will result in a more streamlined process. The Division appreciates everyone’s patience and understanding as we implement a process to streamline S.C. Form review.
CONVERTING COAL BED METHANE WELLS TO DOMESTIC AND/OR STOCK WELLS
January 21, 2014
Updated March 20, 2014
Coal bed methane wells are wells drilled into a coal seam to capture and produce gas. The process includes pumping water to the surface to release the gas. As gas production subsides the wells are either reclaimed, or in some cases can be converted for use as a water source. Although coal bed methane wells are scattered throughout the state, the majority of wells are in northeast Wyoming.
As agency directors in charge of managing the State of Wyoming’s non-federal mineral and water resources, the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Supervisor Grant Black, and the State Engineer Patrick Tyrrell have written a guidance letter to explain the details of the proper conversion of coal bed methane wells for domestic and stock use.
Landowners may be approached by CBM well operators with an offer to transfer well to the landowner and at the same time allowing release of the WOGCC bond on the well(s) and possibly the operator of the responsibility of plugging, abandoning and reclaiming the well. There are other cases where a landowner is interested in taking responsibility for an orphaned CBM well and converting it for use as a stock or domestic well. “These conversions, at their core, are something we support”, say Supervisor Black and State Engineer Tyrrell. “It makes use of an existing asset, can provide water for people and animals, and can have positive benefits for wildlife, including sage grouse”.
The questions become those of scope, process, and information. Questions for consideration include: How many wells should be converted in a defined area? What do the landowner and operator have to do with both our agencies to make sure the conversion is acceptable? What happens to the wellbore, and any associated liability, if turned over to a landowner and never recompleted or fully plugged and abandoned? Converting wells without analysis and proper approval will lead to potential liabilities for landowners and the potential risk that may be imposed upon mineral and groundwater resources.
The guidance letter will be posted on the web site of the two agencies. Links to both sites can be found on the State of Wyoming website. The guidance letter is two pages with an additional page as an attachment listing the steps and actions necessary to transfer a well.
You may contact the Cheyenne office at 307-777-6150.
GREEN BASIN WATER USERS MEETING
TEMPORARY OR “TIME LIMITED” GROUNDWATER PERMITS
Many permit applications request the beneficial use of Wyoming’s groundwater for miscellaneous uses that are considered by the State Engineer to be temporary in nature. Upon approval, the permits are valid for a specified period of time and are termed “temporary” or “time-limited” permits. These permits have an automatic cancellation date which is specified in the Additional Conditions and Limitations attached to the permit. If an extension of time is not requested (and approved by the State Engineer) prior to the cancellation date, the permit is cancelled.
Examples of temporary or time-limited uses authorized by permits include water supply wells for the oil and gas industry, mine dewatering, highway construction, gravel pits, and water hauling.
Adjudication of temporary or time-limited permits is not required.
As the appropriator, it is your responsibility to know and understand the content of the conditions and limitations attached to your permit.
If you have a temporary or time-limited permit and have questions regarding potentially extending the automatic cancellation date, please call the Ground Water Division at (307) 777-6163 before the cancellation date.
State Engineer Orders Corrective Controls in the Horse Creek Basin
CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Responding to concerns over increasing conflicts between surface water and groundwater resources in southeast Wyoming, State Engineer Pat Tyrrell issued an order today that will limit groundwater use for the next three years in the LaGrange area while the area’s groundwater and surface water uses are re-appraised.
More specifically, the order was issued for the LaGrange Aquifer and surface water diversions from Horse Creek at and below the Brown and LaGrange diversion in southern Goshen County, Wyoming. In crafting the order, Tyrrell took into account concerns voiced by area water users, as expressed at a public hearing in LaGrange on April 12, 2013.
In the order, Tyrrell calls for closing of the area to further permitting of large capacity wells, and for the adjudication of currently unadjudicated groundwater permits. Also, groundwater used for irrigation from the LaGrange Aquifer will be limited to 12 inches per year for the next three years (starting in 2014), and a total of 36 inches over that period. Some flexibility within the 3-year period is allowed. All groundwater wells permitted for over 25 gallons per minute will also be required to have flow meters installed, and to report their use annually. While so limited, groundwater use will not be vulnerable to calls for regulation from surface water rights.
Surface water diversions, and reservoirs, will also be required to have acceptable control and measurement capabilities. Those diversions seeking to divert water during the winter will be required to have acceptable control and measurement capabilities prior to diverting in the winter of 2013-2014, and any such diversions will be required to be spread across the appropriate permitted (or adjudicated) acres up to the soil holding capacity only.
The Order is in effect for a period of three years, after which these conjunctive management measures will be reassessed. Therefore, the current order focuses largely on water use data acquisition. At that time, the current Order will either remain in effect or terminated, a new Order will be issued, or the Order will be replaced by an agreement among the affected appropriators. The order will be posted on the State Engineer’s website on Monday, July 22, 2013.
The State Engineer rescinded the January 4, 2005, "Policy Memo: Permitting Requirements for Groundwater Monitoring Wells", effective March 12, 2013. The Ground Water Division will no longer require permits for monitoring wells - regardless of the casing size. The Water Well Minimum Construction Standards (Chapter 2, Section 2 (ww)), defines a monitoring well as, "A groundwater level observation well or a well from which water samples are retrieved for water chemistry analysis." Therefore, there is no production of water for beneficial use and a monitoring well will not require a permit.
Wyoming State Board of Control receives final approval for proposed rules amendments - October 29, 2012
On October 29, 2012 Governor Matt Mead gave final approval to a series of amendments to the Rules and Instructions of the State Board of Control. This completes an update to the Board Rules which has been ongoing for the last couple of years.
The current Rules can be found at:
Governor Appoints Water Superintendent - Governor Matt Mead has appointed Mr. Brian Pugsley as the new Division I Water Superintendent - September 21, 2012