Moratorium on new water permits extended

Sep 26, 2013

Wyoming will not issue any new permits for agricultural or other high-capacity water wells in the Ogallala Aquifer, until a hydrogeologic study of the area is completed.

The Ogallala supplies water to southeastern Wyoming and many other states, and State Engineer Pat Tyrrell says the water is being used up too quickly.

“We’ve continued to see declines in the water level,” Tyrrell said. “And at some point, if we don’t arrest that decline, we’re essentially going to pump ourselves right out of water.”

Tyrrell had already placed a temporary moratorium on new permits this spring, but he’s extended it until March of next year. By that point, he hopes to have the results from a study that will show whether there’s any water in the aquifer that has not already been appropriated for use.

He says if the answer is no, they have a couple of options, including restricting the amount of water that existing water rights holders can pump.