Wyoming State Engineer Pat Tyrrell has placed restrictions on groundwater use near LaGrange in Goshen County.
Tyrrell says there’s not enough water to go round in the Horse Creek Basin, and that groundwater and surface water in the area are connected. That means people with wells could be taking water that surface water users are entitled to.
“Wells are junior, in many cases, to most other uses of water,” Tyrrell said. “And so if you take water that ultimately might get to the stream channel or to one of the lower reservoirs … the question then comes up: Are you taking water from a senior right holder that really should get that water?”
Tyrrell says landowners in the area were unable to come up with voluntary measures to fix the problem, so he is now limiting the amount of groundwater that people can pump each year. He also will not issue any new permits for large capacity wells.
The engineer says he’s never done something like this before.
“This is relatively new type of order in the state of Wyoming,” Tyrrell said. “I don’t know that these parts of our statute have been used in the past.”