The Wyoming State Engineer’s Office has announced that groundwater pumping in eastern and central Laramie County will be restricted for the next year-and-a half.
State Engineer Pat Tyrrell says groundwater levels in the area have been declining since the 80s. He says his office has allocated water for irrigation, municipal use and the oil and gas industry primarily through temporary water use agreements.
"With additional demands like that in the future, and a continuing diminishing supply, it’s just time we took a step back and evaluated what future space requirements or what other future controls might be appropriate."
The area depends on water from the High Plains aquifer, one of the most heavily used groundwater resources in the country.
Tyrrell says despite conservative permitting, there's never enough water to meet demands, so the area's geology, water qualities, and wells need to be re-evaluated.
Existing wells can continue to operate, and small wells can still be built under certain circumstances. However, Tyrrell says during the reassessment period, his office won’t issue permits for high capacity wells unless developers are willing to dig wells deeper than the High Plains aquifer.
Tyrrell’s office will host a public meeting in Cheyenne on May 3.