Volume 5, Number 33 - November 10, 2005
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Water value analysis proceeds
The Green River Basin Advisory Group met in Kemmerer Tuesday, receiving a report on the research project regarding the economic value of Green River water.
The research project is being undertaken with funding from the Wyoming Water Development Commission and is being conducted by Ernie Niemi of EcoNorthwest in Oregon, with subcontractors Watts and Associates of Laramie, Rio Verde Engineering of Pinedale and Jeff Fassett Consulting of Cheyenne.
The elements of the study focus on the values of water in Wyoming, taking an independent, broad perspective. The study attempts to look at values not linked to water projects or policies, including all water-related goods and services. The subcontractors are helping to gather all relevant literature and data, as well as undertaking dispersed case studies. The case studies examine water values in three distinct areas:
Upper Basin from Boulder to Big Piney north, including water values for ranching, ranchettes, growing urban area, recreational activities and gas development;
Rock Springs/Green River area, which is characterized by its municipal and industrial demands on water; and
Bridger Valley, which is somewhat comparable to the upper portion of the basin, by is located along an interstate and is influenced by a major metropolitan area located a few hours away.
Niemi explained that his research examines the basinís ecosystem and economic values associated with that ecosystem. It looks at ecosystem functions that produce goods and services that humans value. Those functions include a broad range, from production and regulation of water for the production of food, to the formation and retention of soil and regulation of nutrients and pollution.
Niemi said he was pleasantly surprised to learn the widespread concern for cultural values in the basin. Niemi said that in interviews throughout the basin participants repeatedly expressed concern for maintaining traditional activities, including the ranching landscape, and generally maintaining the areaís cultural heritage.
He said the analysis of values heís undertaking includes direct water use such as the creation of hay crops; indirect uses such as return flows and fish habitat; and non-use, which includes cultural heritage and quality of life values. Niemi said the non-use values are the most difficult to define.
Niemi said the initial summary of the research to date should be ready sometime within the next month or so. With the contract term set to expire June 30, Niemi said that the end result will be both a written research report and a symposium, which has not yet been scheduled.
For more information on the water value analysis, log onto wwdc.state.wy.us.
The Green River BAGís next meeting is March 28 at 10 a.m. in Green River.
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