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Your Wyoming Water Connection: A Message From President Strike

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

By Andrew Strike

“Oh you know, strikes and gutters, ups and downs,” said Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski. 

I’ve always admired this character’s response to things outside of his control. Given the amount of time we’re all spending discussing weather patterns – El Niño and the overall lack of snow in the state – perhaps we should all take a page from The Dude and start focusing on the things we can control. 

With this said, what a difference a year makes.

The large snowpack we saw in the winter of 2023 has not been repeated yet, but we’re all hoping the storm tracks will change in 2024. If it doesn’t, we will see large effects on all sectors, and it could create a very real problem for Colorado River flows and the timing of curtailment under the compact. 

What a tough time to be in agriculture. Last year’s losses due to weather had to be one of the highest, and now the range needs water to be able to support numbers. 

In positive news for many landowners in the Upper Green River Basin and Little Snake River Basin, the Upper Colorado River Commission has kicked off another round of the System Conservation Pilot Program, and participation has grown substantially from last year. 

While certainly a contentious program with hotly debated efficacy, this program is testing ways to build resiliency into irrigated operations and explore leasing without the loss of water rights.

With respect to our Wyoming Water Association (WWA) Board, we have added four excellent new members to assist with our important work. 

Justin Caudill, ag program coordinator for the Department of Agriculture; Melissa Leonhardt, manager of the Greybull Valley Irrigation District; Jay Smith, natural resource administrator for the city of Laramie and Leslie Steen, Wyoming state director for Trout Unlimited, have all joined in the last few months, and we are excited to have their perspectives and enthusiasm for our state’s most treasured resource. 

Our board represents the full gamut of sectors, from government, municipal, recreation, industry and agriculture, and we continually strive to advance each sectors goals with an understanding of how these changes will impact our objectives – to promote the development, conservation and utilization of the water resources of Wyoming for the benefit of Wyoming people. 

It’s a one-stop shop for education on all water topics, and our members routinely express their gratitude for the breadth of focus on display at our summer tour and annual meeting.

We have begun planning for the summer tour in the Green River Basin this year, so individuals should keep an eye on the website for more details on the agenda. It’s sure to include discussion of water needs for municipalities, industry and agriculture, as well as how water banking might be structured. 

Given this is a budget session for the Wyoming Legislature, we will also be actively watching how numerous projects will be funded by the state. Join us weekly via Zoom for discussion once the session starts in February.

WWA appreciates our membership, and we are encouraging more participation this year. Please feel free to share any ideas and insights into how water could be better allocated and managed across the state, as well as success stories for different projects. 

Future Wyoming generations are depending on us to solve these problems.

Andrew Strike is the president of WWA. This letter was originally published in WWA’s  Winter 2024 Wyoming Water Connection Newsletter.

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