From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 9 - May 26, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Three storage projects studied

by Cat Urbigkit

In its first year of operations, the Upper Green River Basin Joint Powers Board has managed to get organized and to put forth three water storage projects for study.

The board consists of representatives from Sweetwater, Lincoln and Sublette counties.

The board is serving as sponsor for three projects undergoing Level II studies by the Wyoming Water Development Commission.

The first project involves Viva Naughton Reservoir and or alternative storage sites for the Hams Fork River above Kemmerer.

The tri-county board is also sponsoring a study of Boulter Reservoir, with the hope of making this adjudicated storage facility once again useable. The existing reservoir built in the 1920s is located adjacent to the Bridger Wilderness with limited motorized access and means of maintenance without extensive U.S. Forest Service permits.

"The outlet works are currently unusable and thus this stored water is never used by the Sublette County irrigation below it," according to a letter by Tom Crank to the county commissions in the partnership. "The study is hoped to determine methods of rehabilitating the outlet works and identifying the permitting, which will be needed to access the structure."

Lastly, the board is sponsoring a study of potential reservoir sites on the main stem of the Green River above Fontenelle Reservoir. Crank said that this study is set to review past studies on the same issue and update them "so that new options of what might be achievable can be determined."

The board is concerned with rapid development of uses for Wyoming water, especially Green River water.

"The unappropriated water in the river is currently being eyed and its value totaled by all users below us," Crank wrote. "There is increasing cooperation and litigation for all water from the Colorado River. California, Arizona and Nevada are all currently undertaking massive projects to keep this water moving to them."

Pressures are also in place from within the state's borders as well. Crank's letter referred to the current transbasin diversion study being conducted by the WWCD, with the intention of diverting water from the Green River to the overadjudicated North Platte River drainage.

The letter to the county commissions stated: "One of the major problems our board sees in developing any water project for the region is benefit/cost analysis. The region's populations' current ability to pay will always have difficulty in funding these projects given current funding mechanisms. The board must look into alternative funding mechanisms if any major project is to be realized."

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