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Wyo. Legislature directs money at water storage, infrastructure

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Cheyenne – Members of the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee addressed the state’s water needs in their recent budget discussions.
    “We added more than$20 million,” says House Appropriations Committee Chairman Frank Philp of Water Account III. Meeting in Cheyenne over the course of January, he says the committee saw the need to add dollars to both Water Account III for storage and Water Account II where dollars are directed at infrastructure. “We put $10 million into Water Account II.”
    “We don’t get in the business of deciding how much the governor and the legislature want to invest in water,” says Wyoming Water Development Commission Director Mike Purcell. “If they give us funding we’ll invest it wisely.”
    Of Account III he says, “Presently, the account has a balance of about $117 million. If the additional $20 million is ultimately approved, the balance will become approximately $137 million.”
    “It’s the money we have set aside for rehabilitation of existing projects,” says Purcell of Water Account II. “Irrigation districts have relied heavily on that account for improvement to their infrastructure over the years.”
    “All three accounts receive revenues from mineral royalties and interest,” explains Purcell. “Account I receives about $27 million per year. Account II receives about $6 million per year. Account III receives about $3 million per year. In addition to the above revenues, Account II has received direct appropriations of $5 million in 2001 and $2 million in 2007.”
    “If the legislature approves our funding requests for 2008 from Account II, approximately $10.8 million and the additional appropriation of $10M,” says Purcell, “there will be a balance of approximately $16 million in Account II at the end of the session.”
    “There’s a lot of deliberations to go on in the session before the final decision is made,” says Purcell. “We appreciate the work of the Appropriations Committee, but likewise we understand there’s a legislative process we have to go through before we can truly feel like we have the funding.”

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