Archive for the 'Wyoming' Category

May 06 2013

WY: Priority administration lifted on North Platte

Published by under Platte River,Wyoming

Wyoming State Engineer Patrick T. Tyrrell has confirmed that priority administration for all federal reservoir storage in the North Platte River Drainage has been lifted, effective midnight April 30, 2013.

The priority call for these U.S. Bureau of Reclamation mainstem reservoirs was put into effect on February 6, 2013 to allow for the filling of the reservoirs during the period of below average snowpack and low forecasted supply, as provided by the Modified North Platte Decree dated 2001.

The priority administration primarily affected municipalities and industries located above Guernsey Reservoir with water rights junior to December 6, 1904. To supplement supplies for municipal customers, six municipalities purchased water from the Pathfinder Modification Project municipal account, which was recently completed to provide additional water for municipalities during a time of water storage.

Based on the May 2013 forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the expected inflow through July combined with the current available water in Pathfinder and Guernsey Reservoirs is forecasted at 796,073 acre-feet. This forecast remains below the 1,100,000 acre-feet demand for irrigation water served by the federal reservoirs within the North Platte River system, although no further administration for those federal reservoirs is occurring.

“The snows in late April provided a bit of rescue from the bleak runoff outlook, and it was a welcomed event,” adds Patrick T. Tyrrell, Wyoming State Engineer. Snowpack levels throughout the North Platte River increased in the month of April, but true testament of the anticipated runoff is with the snow-to-water equivalent (SWE). The SWE percentages range from 75% to 130% throughout the basin, based on the most recent manual snow surveys conducted jointly with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the State Engineer’s Office.

While the call to fill the federal reservoirs on the North Platte River has lifted, the State Engineer’s Office will likely receive further calls for the normal intrastate priority administration of water rights during the irrigation season, which will also be the case in much of the state of Wyoming.

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Apr 11 2013

WY: BuRec estimates Bighorn basin runoff

Reclamation’s April forecast for the April through July runoff for the Bighorn Basin:

Buffalo Bill Reservoir – Shoshone River April through July inflow to Buffalo Bill Reservoir is forecast at 525,000 acre-feet (af), which is 79 percent of the 30 year average of 669,000 af.
Wind River – April through July snowmelt runoff into the Wind River above Bull Lake Creek is expected to be 300,000 af, which is 74 percent of the 30 year average of 404,000 af.
Bull Lake Reservoir – April through July snowmelt runoff into Bull Lake Reservoir from Bull Lake Creek is expected to be 110,000 af, which is 79 percent of the 30 year average of 140,000 af.
Boysen Reservoir – Wind River April through July inflow to Boysen Reservoir is forecast at 350,000 af, which is 62 percent of the 30 year average of 562,000 af.
Bighorn Lake – Bighorn River April through July inflow to Bighorn Lake is forecast at 661,000 af, which is 60 percent of the 30 year average of 1,098,000 af.

An acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover 1 acre (43,560 square feet) 1 foot deep (325,851 gallons or 1,233.5 cubic meters).

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Mar 04 2013

WY/NE: North Platte runoff below average

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Wyoming Area Office has prepared snowmelt runoff forecasts for the North Platte River Basin. According to Wyoming Area Manager Coleman Smith, the Mar. 1 forecast indicates below average spring snowmelt runoff for the North Platte Basin.

April through July runoff in the North Platte Basin above Glendo Dam is expected to be 300,000 acre feet (AF) or 32 percent of the 30-year-average of 944,600 AF. Approximately 260,000 AF of runoff (35 percent of average) is expected to enter Seminoe Reservoir with an additional 20,000 AF (34 percent of average) being provided to Pathfinder Reservoir from the Sweetwater River, and the balance of 20,000 AF (15 percent of average) coming from the basin between Pathfinder Reservoir and Glendo Reservoir.

The water in storage for delivery to North Platte Project contractors as of Feb. 28, is 254,600 AF or 41 percent of average.

Smith said, “Reclamation is advising North Platte Project water users that an allocation is expected. With reservoir storage well below average and below average inflow forecasted for April through July, water users will need to take measures to conserve the available water supply.”

With the current forecast, river flows throughout the system are expected to be much less than average and below last year’s flows. Reclamation will update the inflow forecasts again in April and May.

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Feb 07 2013

WY: BuRec estimates North Platte runoff

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Wyoming Area Office has prepared snowmelt runoff forecasts for the North Platte River Basin. The February 1 forecast indicates below average spring snowmelt runoff for the North Platte Basin.

April through July runoff in the North Platte Basin above Glendo Dam is expected to be 319,000 acre feet (AF) or 34 percent of the 30-year-average of 944,600 AF. Approximately 260,000 AF (35 percent of average) of runoff is expected to enter Seminoe Reservoir with an additional 39,000 AF (65 percent of average) being provided to Pathfinder Reservoir from the Sweetwater River, and the balance of 20,000 AF (15 percent of average) coming from the basin between Pathfinder Reservoir and Glendo Reservoir.

The water in storage for delivery to North Platte Project contractors as of Jan. 31, is 224,000 AF or 39 percent of average. Reclamation is advising North Platte Project water users that an allocation is expected. With reservoir storage well below average and below average inflow forecasted for April through July, water users will need to take measures to conserve the available water supply.

With the current forecast, river flows throughout the system are expected to be much less than average and below last year’s flows. Reclamation will update the inflow forecasts again in March, April, and May.

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Feb 06 2013

WY: Rare wintertime water call issued

Published by under Wyoming

Wyoming State Engineer Patrick T. Tyrrell said on February 6 that, in accordance with Wyoming water law, priority administration is in effect on water rights diverting from the North Platte River and its
tributaries upstream of and junior to Pathfinder Reservoir, priority of December 6, 1904; and between Pathfinder Dam and Guernsey Reservoir, priority of April 20, 1923, until such time as the administration is lifted no later than May 1, 2013.

The North Platte River system has experienced below average winter snowpack and streamflow conditions over the past 16 months. Mr. Tyrrell indicated the combination of below average snowpack conditions and low carryover storage in the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reservoir system requires the administration of water rights junior to Pathfinder and Guernsey Reservoirs. Based on the existing water supply, snowpack and forecasted runoff, it is anticipated that water supplies will be below average in
2013.

The February storage and runoff forecasts for the coming season total 705,364 acre-feet, well below the 1,100,000 acre-foot “trigger” value which represents a full North Platte Project ownership supply. Priority administration is required by Wyoming water law and is initiated by the request for regulation as provided
by the Modified North Platte Decree, in order to protect senior Wyoming water rights held by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for storage in their reservoirs.

“We continue to monitor the snow pack and water supply conditions in the basin, yet unfortunately it is clear at this point that the supply will be much less than we’d like to see,” says Tyrrell. “It’s hard to believe that just two years ago we had a record snowpack and flooding during the runoff.” If water supply conditions change over the next few months, as the weather patterns often do in Wyoming, the State Engineer’s Office will make adjustments to the basin-wide priority administration activity.

Since the initiation of the Modified North Platte Decree in 2001, and later the implementation of the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, many of the municipalities located within the North Platte River basin have secured replacement water for their municipality in the event their existing rights cannot meet the water demand of the community.

“Most of the towns and cities in the basin, and its industries, are in good shape and have planned ahead,” Tyrrell said.

The immediate effects of the priority administration would mainly affect those junior priority water rights held by some municipalities and industries and storage reservoirs that may divert or store water. Tyrrell is sending letters to the municipalities and industries that may be affected by these administration
activities. The letters inform the entities to review their water rights portfolio and determine if the water demand of their community will exceed their reliable water supply for the upcoming year. Alternatively, water may be obtained through a temporary agreement or contract from available storage, a temporary change of use agreement, a transfer or exchange agreement, or other supplies available under Wyoming law and approved by the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office. Effects on junior irrigation rights are expected to be small in February and March.

The priority administration actions for the affected water users will be carried out pursuant to state law by water commissioners and hydrographers assigned to various portions of the North Platte River basin, working under direction of Mr. Brian Pugsley, Division I Superintendent.

“The State Engineer’s Office personnel will remain in contact with the affected water appropriators and are available to assist water users with their questions,” added Tyrrell. “Nearly all of our staff went through the drought and previous allocation years in 2002 through 2005 and do a fantastic job in carrying out the obligations of the law in an efficient and cooperative manner that can make maximum beneficial use of the limited water supply.”

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Sep 05 2012

WY: BuRec finds no impact for Herrin request

The Bureau of Reclamation is announcing the availability of the final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for the Water Service Contract Renewal for Herrin Ranch, Inc.

According to Wyoming Area Manager Coleman W. Smith, Jr., “Reclamation prepared the EA/FONSI to evaluate the environmental effects of renewing the water service contract. Renewing the contracts will only result in administrative or financial changes.”

The public may view the EA/FONSI at Reclamation’s Wyoming Area Office located at 705 Pendell Blvd., Mills, WY.

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Feb 27 2012

WY: BuRec sets new area manager

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Great Plains Region has selected Coleman Smith, Jr. as Wyoming Area Manager in Mills, Wyoming. Smith replaces John Lawson who retired from Reclamation on December 31.

“Smith brings a depth of expertise in operations, management and technical advising,” said Great Plains Regional Director Mike Ryan. “His skill set, along with his track record of teamwork, coordination and communication skills will help the Wyoming Area continue to be a success in the future.”

Prior to accepting the Area Manager position, Smith served as the Deputy Manager, Power Operations and Maintenance, for the Pacific Northwest Region in Boise, Idaho. In that position, Smith coordinated work of the regional power office with other federal agencies, including the Bonneville Power Administration and the US Army Corp of Engineers.

Smith first came to Reclamation in 2007 serving as the Operations, Maintenance and Technical Services Manager for Reclamation facilities in southwest Idaho and eastern Oregon in the Snake River Area Office.

“I’m honored to be selected as the Wyoming Area Manager,” said Smith, who is tentatively scheduled to take over April 8. “I look forward to the opportunities and challenges Wyoming faces in managing and developing the water resources of tomorrow.”

The Wyoming Area Office is headquartered in Mills, Wyoming, with three field offices in Alcova, Torrington and Cody, Wyo. WYAO facilities include twelve hydroelectric power plants with a combined generation capacity of approximately 250 megawatts, and 20 reservoirs, with a collective storage capacity of more than 4.5 million acre-feet, on the North Platte, Wind, Bighorn, and Shoshone Rivers in Wyoming. The WYAO also provides remote operational control for Colorado’s Big Thompson Project and Montana’s Yellowtail and Canyon Ferry hydropower facilities.

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Dec 21 2011

UT/WY: No enforcement at this point

Published by under Utah,Wyoming

A Utah and Wyoming water right holder failed in his attempt to get a clarification of his water rights, after courts determined that such efforts were premature without a clear challenge.

In its December 20 decision in Daniel Berman and Steve Bond v. John Yarbrough and Jerry Olds (water officials in Utah and Wyoming), the Utah Supreme Court held,

“In this appeal, Daniel Berman challenges the denial of his Motion to Enforce the Memorandum Decisions and Orders of the Court (the Motion to Enforce or the Motion). As part of his initial action, Mr. Berman asked the district court for a declaratory judgment quantifying his Utah water rights. Mr. Berman also sought an injunction ordering a Wyoming water official to deliver this water to his property in Wyoming. The district court issued the declaratory judgment, but expressly reserved ruling on any enforcement issues. The court made no ruling regarding enforcement of the Utah water rights and did not order the Wyoming water official to undertake any action. Sometime later, after a different Wyoming water official denied Mr. Berman’s request for the amount of water announced in the declaratory judgment, Mr. Berman filed the Motion to Enforce. In the Motion, Mr. Berman asked the court to order Wyoming water officials, including those who were not parties in the declaratory action, to deliver the amount of water quantified in the declaratory judgment. The court denied the Motion to Enforce and Mr. Berman filed an appeal.

“We conclude that a motion to enforce cannot be used to address matters beyond the scope of the underlying judgment it seeks to enforce. In this case, the declaratory judgment merely quantified Mr. Berman’s Utah water rights; it did not include any directive to the Wyoming water officials. Thus, there was nothing in the declaratory judgment to enforce against the Wyoming water officials. We therefore hold that Mr. Berman’s Motion to Enforce was procedurally barred.”

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Oct 20 2011

WY: Horse Creek inquiry slated

Published by under ground water,Wyoming

A community meeting was set for November 1, at the Lagrange Community Center at the Fairgrounds. The purpose of the meeting is to present the results of the recently completed Horse Creek Groundwater/Surface Water Connection Investigation, Goshen and Laramie Counties, Wyoming, to interested parties.

This investigation was conducted as a result of a 2009 claim of interference, signed by area irrigators who were concerned about the potential impact of wells in the Horse Creek drainage on senior surface water rights. The State Engineer’s Office – Ground Water Division determined a claim of interference would not resolve the concerns of local surface water appropriators, and that any future calls for regulation of junior groundwater rights by senior surface water appropriators could probably not be resolved absent a determination that irrigation wells completed in the Horse Creek drainage may be hydrologically connected to Horse Creek.

The Ground Water Division subsequently contracted with Hinckley Consulting (Laramie, WY) and AMEC Earth and Environmental, Inc. (Boulder, CO) to ascertain whether or not hydrologic connection exists between groundwater and surface water in the Horse Creek drainage, and to develop the tools necessary for administration of surface and groundwater rights that 1) can be immediately and easily incorporated into the existing structure of stream and well priority regulation, 2) are well founded (and documented) in accepted scientific principles and procedures, and 3) can be readily explained to the water users.

We anticipate Hinckley Consulting and AMEC will provide an approximate hour-long presentation, followed by a question and answer period. Bern Hinckley (Hinckley Consulting), Chuck Brendecke (AMEC), Emily LoDolce (AMEC), Randy Tullis (Water Division 1 Superintendent), Gary Mehling (Water Division 1, District 2 Hydrographer), and staff from the State Engineer’s Office will be available to answer questions.

The Horse Creek Groundwater/Surface Water Connection Investigation, Goshen and Laramie Counties, Wyoming, report can be downloaded from the State Engineer’s Office website at http://seo.state.wy.us/

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Aug 25 2011

WY: Fees and rights for non-district users

Published by under irrigation,Wyoming

If you want to use water from an irrigation district, and you don’t have a standing agreement already, how much is a fair fee for use of the water right?

That was the key question in Marvin and Sherri Rageth v. Sidon Irrigation District, decided August 24 by the Wyoming Supreme Court. It was not finally resolved, since the court said that it needs more information first. But it did outline a path to setting a series of numbers.

The court said that “the central issue presented is, in the absence of an agreement, what water delivery fee may an irrigation district charge a non-member who has a perpetual right to convey that non-member’s adjudicated appropriation to that non-member’s land outside the irrigation district’s boundaries using the irrigation district’s canal and related facilities.”

The background, according to the court decision:

District owns the Sidon Canal in Big Horn County, Wyoming, which was constructed in 1900 and has been in operation to the present. District covers approximately 13,129.98 acres with 179.57 c.f.s. of adjudicated water rights diverted from the Shoshone River through the Sidon Canal. District also has a permit for supplemental supply from Bitter Creek.

In 2008, Rageths purchased 559.75 acres situated adjacent to the Sidon Canal with 8 c.f.s. of adjudicated water rights diverted from Bitter Creek at a structure built and maintained by District and conveyed through the Sidon Canal. Their water flows in Sidon Canal for a distance of approximately 6.5 to 7 miles to pump stations where the water is pumped above the canal and used in pivots to irrigate their land. Their land is not located within District’s boundaries, and Rageths are not members of District.

District and previous owners of Rageths’ land had agreements establishing their payments for delivery of their water through the Sidon Canal, but these agreements had expired before Rageths’ 2008 purchase of their land.1 After Rageths purchased the land, they and District negotiated without success to reach agreement establishing a delivery fee. In 2008, District billed Rageths the sum of $7,560.00 for delivering their 8 c.f.s., that sum representing 75% of the gross assessment for District’s members, which was based on $18.00 per acre at the time. In 2009, District billed Rageths the sum of $11,200.00, that sum representing 100% of the gross assessment for District’s members, which was based on $20.00 per acre at the time. Rageths paid these bills under protest, and District delivered their water throughout the irrigation seasons.

In July 2009, Rageths filed their action for declaratory judgment to establish a reasonable fee for the delivery of their adjudicated irrigation water through the approximately 6.5 to 7 mile stretch of the Sidon Canal and for reimbursement of alleged overpayments of delivery fees for the prior years. After the litigation was underway, the parties engaged in mediation and, as a result, they executed a stipulation, filed with the district court on April 28, 2010, that resolved issues of ownership and rights to the use of the Sidon Canal, but not the issues of establishing for the future a reasonable delivery fee and reimbursement of alleged overpayments of delivery fees for the prior years.

The court reflected, ” it is clear that the parties disagree on how to determine the expenses necessary for the proper maintenance and operation of the Bitter Creek Diversion and the Sidon Canal, for it is to those expenses that the parties will apply the ratio of 4.26% on which they agree.”

But: “Having carefully considered the parties’ briefs, the record, the pertinent statutory provisions, and the authority revealed by our independent research, we find there exist genuine issues of material fact that must be determined only after a full evidentiary hearing. Rageths’ proportionate share of the requisite expenses must be based on an equitable apportionment determined after consideration of the various relevant factors. Consequently, we reverse the district court’s orders in No. S-10-0141 and No. S-10-0184 and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

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