There are more than fifty potential projects being considered for inclusion in Wyoming’s Water Strategy. The strategy, which is being spearheaded by Governor Matt Mead, is intended to guide state investment in water development, management and conservation. The list of projects was developed through of a series of statewide public hearings and covers everything from building dams to clouding seeding to developing better public water databases.
At a meeting in Casper Wednesday, the governor's policy advisor, Nephi Cole, presented the projects and asked for public input on which ones should move forward. Ultimately though, the task of selecting five to ten specific projects for inclusion in the strategy will fall to the Governor. Cole couldn’t say exactly what criteria will be used to evaluate their relative merits other than that they should fit into the overall strategy.
“The most responsible thing for us to do is prepare for worst-case scenarios and to make sure we can meet our obligations to people who have water rights in Wyoming today and to meet our obligations to downstream states in the future,” Cole said.
Jeb Steward, with the Upper North Platte Valley Water Users Association, says he’s concerned the focus is too narrow.
“I would think that before we start picking projects, that we develop a process, a transparent process, that we can all perhaps participate in, and recognize what are the priorities the state wants to accomplish," Steward says. "Seems like in that regard we’re lacking a good statewide needs analysis.”
Cole counters that the specific initiatives reflect the state’s needs. He says during public hearings, the most commonly raised concern was water storage.