Governor Gordon Convenes Working Group Over Drought Conditions on Colorado River
According to a press release, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon is convening a Colorado River Working Group that will meet to discuss the impact of drought conditions on the Colorado River and its impact to Wyoming.
The drought conditions are present in the Colorado, Green and Little Snake River basins, and have led the Bureau of Reclamation to announce drawdowns from Flaming Gorge Reservoir in order to maintain minimum levels at Lake Powell.
No restrictions on Wyoming water users have been proposed at this time.
The working group is made up of representatives of water use sectors of the Green and Little Snake River Basins, as well as agricultural, municipal, industrial and environmental interests.
A specific list of representatives was not provided in the press release.
It will discuss and share Colorado River information with interested stakeholders in the Green and Little Snake River Basins.
The Working Group is a continuation of an effort that has been underway since 2019.
“The West finds itself facing unprecedented drought conditions and Wyoming must be prepared to address the potential future impacts of water shortages. It is important that local perspectives on issues that impact our water users and the State are heard and included in the process. I want to ensure that representatives of key water use sectors are able to provide input on this crisis, which is challenging us today and may last for years.”
A 24-Month Study confirms the continual declining conditions for the Colorado River system.
The results show that drought response releases from key Reclamation reservoirs in the Upper Colorado River Basin -- including Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming and Utah -- will be necessary starting this summer.
Based on the announcement, 125,000 acre-feet of water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir will be released to protect storage elevations in Lake Powell, and will take place from July through October, and will likely result in Flaming Gorge water elevation dropping an additional 3.5 feet by mid-autumn.
The water in Flaming Gorge currently sits at 6,023.59 feet, which is down 5.18 feet from a year ago.
Because no Wyoming water rights are tied to the water being released, no Wyoming water right holders are impacted.
Gordon said he wants to ensure that Wyoming’s water users are protected under the state’s apportionments provided for under the 1922 Colorado River and 1948 Upper Colorado River Basin Compacts.
In 2019, Wyoming signed onto the Drought Contingency Plan alongside the other Colorado River Basin States, California, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, and the Department of Interior.