Report: Wyoming can meet water needs, protect rivers

Tue, 12/17/2013


Joanna Nasar
Western Resource Advocates
(720) 763-3728

Cory Toye
Trout Unlimited
(307) 399-4623 (c)

Cheyenne, Wyo. (Dec. 11, 2013) – A new report , examining one of the most important issues in the West –water supply and demand – shows that Wyoming is well-prepared for the future. The state will be able to more than meet the needs of residents in the Platte River Basin through 2035 without the need for costly, large scale diversions or pipelines, and can do so while also preserving natural resources vital to the state’s $4.5 billion outdoor recreation economy.[1]

Filling the Gap: Meeting Future Urban Water Needs in the Platte Basin, Wyoming is a joint report by Western Resource Advocates (WRA) and Trout Unlimited (TU). The Wyoming-specific report is the third in a series that examines how to meet future water needs in the arid West. The newly released report focuses on commonsense solutions like water conservation and reuse that can be implemented to meet the future water needs of Wyoming’s growing population. The report suggests four specific solutions (in one integrated plan) for ensuring economic development and vibrant communities in the Platte Basin: 1) Increase water conservation; 2) Optimize water reuse; 3) Develop smart structural water projects, but only after full and efficient use of existing water supplies; and 4) Minimize reliance on agriculture-to-municipal water transfers, and if these are necessary, cooperate with agriculture on sharing agreements that benefit both municipalities and irrigators and do not permanently dry up agricultural lands. [ Download the fact sheet here (PDF)]

“The report clearly demonstrates that there is no need to build big, new, expensive and environmentally damaging water projects in Wyoming,” said Jorge Figueroa, Water Policy Analyst for WRA and the lead author. “The strategies outlined in the report would provide more than five times the water needed to meet the future demands of Wyoming’s Platte Basin residents.”

In no other state in the continental United States, is fishing more important to the state’s gross domestic product than in Wyoming; and fortunately the state does not need to sacrifice its agricultural heritage or vital freshwater recreational industries to meet the long-term water needs of the Platte Basin.

“As the report shows, fishing and recreation are vital to Wyoming’s economy and quality of life—and they depend on healthy river flows,” said Cory Toye, director of TU’s Wyoming Water Project.  “Meeting future water demands in the North Platte presents a challenge but also offers opportunities for industry, agriculture, municipalities and sportsmen groups to work together to find creative, pragmatic solutions that address diverse needs in ways that benefit each stakeholder. This report provides a roadmap for collaboration.”

Additional Quotes from the Report:

Chad Espenscheid, Fifth Generation Wyoming Rancher, Arrow Land & Water, and LLC: “The report outlines how future municipal water demand can be met without sacrificing Wyoming’s invaluable wildlife habitats and agricultural resources. The ‘Smart Principles’ that are expounded on in the report are a profound set of ideals by which water planning of any kind should follow. As we continue to meet future demands the sustainability of our wildlife habitats and agricultural resources will depend on creatively implementing projects that follow the ‘smart principles’ as well as encourage conservation and cooperation among water users.” --

For complete information on the Filling the Gap reports, go to:

To download the fact sheet, go to:

[1] Outdoor Industry Association. 2012. The Outdoor Recreation Economy. Boulder, Colo.

Western Resource Advocates is a regional non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting the West’s land, air and water. Trout Unlimited is the nation’s largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.


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