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Wyoming Governor’s Office introduces plan to develop new water strategy

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Cheyenne – With a successful Wyoming Energy Strategy released in May 2013, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and his policy advisors have revealed plans to develop a similar strategy for water.

“Governor Mead recognized the importance in Wyoming of not only energy development but the interface that energy has with landowners in this state and the environment of the state,” says Nephi Cole, a policy advisory for Mead. “We feel that it is appropriate to take the same approach to other key issues, and one of those is water.”

As a result, Mead and his team have begun work on a state water strategy. While the structure of the water strategy is still vague, Cole notes that they are following the same general method it putting it together.

“We have a 200-page in-house document that is our water catalog of issues,” adds Cole. “Those issues deal with water quality, water quantity, interactions and beneficial uses.”

In developing the water strategy, collaboration with key agriculture and industry groups to discuss specific issues and discover what is most important in the state.

“We are working to put together a strategy that creates actions that the Governor can embrace to improvement the management of the resource for the benefit of the citizens of the state of Wyoming,” Cole notes.

Several of the initiatives in the state’s energy strategy also address water, including plans to establish baseline water testing.

“The Governor’s concern is to ensure we are protecting watersheds and groundwater,” comments Governor Mead’s Natural Resources Policy Advisor Jerimiah Rieman. “When he first came into office, he heard a lot about air quality in the Upper Green River Basin, and operators commented that if they had information about air quality before, perhaps they could show they weren’t entirely responsible for the impacts.”

Rieman continues, “The same things could be said about Pavillion and water quality. We should have done more upfront to have some of the information.”

Initiatives to establish baseline water testing will provide that information.

A draft rule has been developed for the initiative requiring water testing 0.5 miles from well sites and establishing requirements to make sure adequate testing of all parts of water samples are available. Testing requirements include testing in a radial pattern and from multiple depths in aquifers. 

“The formal comment period will open in July,” adds Reiman.

Cole addressed the Water Committee at the 2013 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, held in Cheyenne on June 6-8. Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at  

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