(Sheridan, Wyo.) — In a process that is much like balancing a checkbook, the Powder/Tongue and Northeast River Basin Plan is currently undergoing a comprehensive update. Except that instead of dealing with dollars, the Wyoming Water Development Office is dealing with water. "We are trying to quantify the water resources within this basin. That is starting off with, well, how much water is available? How much rain do you get? How much of that rain runs off into the surface water network?" Corey Foreman, Water Resources Engineer with RESPEC told a small crowd at an annual Wyoming Water Update meeting at the Sheridan Fulmer Library Wednesday. The Wyoming River Basin Plans
, funded by
the Wyoming Legislature beginning in 1997, quantify existing water uses and
project future needs of Wyoming's water. With the State divided into seven
major drainage basins (Bear, Green, Platte, Northeast, Powder/Tongue,
Snake/Salt, and Wind/Bighorn), individual plans are generated and regularly
updated to assess current water use in different sectors and to identify
and prioritize water development opportunities.
ese plans are designed to assist Wyoming municipalities, irrigation
districts and other public entities' efforts to plan for the future.
[image: Inline image 1]
*Corey Foreman speaks in Sheridan Wednesday. / Pitchengine Communities*
During a plan update, experts will look at how much water is being used in
each specific area.
"You hope that how much water is being used is less than how much water is
available. We also want to look at, well, how much water do we have the
right to use? In this process, we are not so much looking at individual
water rights, but mostly looking at the downstream obligations through
interstate compacts," Foreman said.
The ultimate goal is to outline planning strategies relating to the
development opportunities for the water resources in a basin, related to
what is available to be used in the future.
"This is under normal conditions, when you have a good, average year. But
how often do we have an 'average' year? You can't just look at normal
conditions. When we do this, we break it into three climatic conditions:
normal, dry and wet," Foreman explained.
It is because an "average" year is so rare that there is a need for
planning. In wet years, the plan will outline possible storage
opportunities to carry through into a drier year to mitigate those drought
"A lot of this is like balancing a checkbook, but we aren't dealing with
dollars. We are dealing with with water," Foreman said.
See a copy of the most recent 2002 plan, and more on the updating process,
*Feature photo: The Powder River near Arvada/Clearmont / Pitchengine