Wyoming delegation reintroduces Water Storage bill

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Washington, DC - U.S. Senators John Barrasso and Mike Enzi and U.S. Representative Liz Cheney, all R-Wyo., reintroduced legislation on Tueday (1/24/17) to approve the expansion of water storage at the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County, Wyoming.

“After years of delay, this bill will help move the much needed Fontenelle Reservoir expansion project forward,” said Barrasso. “Expanding water storage will give our farmers, ranchers and communities a reliable supply of water in order to keep their livestock and crops healthy. More water storage capacity also provides an economic incentive for new businesses to grow and create jobs in southwest Wyoming.”

“Access to a good source of water in Wyoming doesn’t always come easy, but it’s vital to our livelihood,” said Enzi. “This legislation would allow for the expansion of the Fontenelle Reservoir to ensure Wyoming can finally take advantage of the project’s full potential. As the former mayor of a booming city, I know how important water storage projects like this are, both to meet today’s water needs and keep water supplies secure and flexible into the future.”

“Wyoming's agricultural industry is crucial to our economy and our way of life. I am proud to introduce legislation with Senator Barrasso that will ensure more of the precious water coming from the Fontenelle Reservoir can be stored and used by our farmers, ranchers and local communities. This increase in active storage capacity will mean more water to our local communities which can lead to more economic growth and jobs. The reliable storage of our water is an ever-present infrastructure priority in Wyoming, an arid Western state," said Cheney.

Background:

The bill allows for the expansion of water storage at the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County. This would be accomplished by completing the “rip rap” around the reservoir. “Rip rap” is a foundation or sustaining wall of stones or chunks of concrete connected together around the reservoir to prevent erosion.

The bill directs the State of Wyoming and the BOR to reach an agreement to allow Wyoming to complete the rip rap around the reservoir. The state of Wyoming would pay for the cost of completing this project. Wyoming would also have a right to the water stored in the reservoir if the reservoir is completed by building the rip rap.

Despite multiple requests by the state of Wyoming in 2011 and 2014, the Bureau of Reclamation has not completed the needed National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance in order to move forward with the expansion of the Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County.