From WyoFile (Allen Best):
Yet the idea of a pipeline has a certain allure in Torrington, Cheyenne, and in Laramie County, each of which has chipped in $25,000 as members of the Colorado/Wyoming Coalition, a rival to Million’s plan.
“If someone is going to provide water through a pipeline near our water system, we are going to be interested,” says Tim Wilson, director of the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities.
The Cheyenne urban area, with 70,000 people, has sufficient water to meet growth during the next 15 to 25 years, Wilson says. Most of the city’s water comes from snowmelt in streams west of the city, including some water from the Colorado River headwaters near the Colorado-Wyoming border, with water brought through a tunnel and then an exchange of rights.
Cheyenne’s Wilson says many unanswered questions remain about a possible new supply piped in from Flaming Gorge, including the costs and the water rights.
Laramie County has a similar position. “If, in fact, there is additional (Colorado River) Compact water, and it can be brought into Laramie County, we want to tap into that,” says Gary Kranse, planning director. Almost exclusively dependent on groundwater, the county wants more diversity of supplies as population growth continues.
Torrington, population 6,000, is also at the prospective pipeline table. City engineer Bob Juve says conservation and efficiency measures have dampened demand in Torrington 30 percent, with more savings possible. But with the city growing 1 percent annually, those savings will have been exhausted in a few decades. And the North Platte River, which flows through the town, is already spoken for. Nebraska and Wyoming in 2001 signed a legal settlement that reaffirmed the longstanding arrangement that majority of the water in the river goes to Nebraska. A current expansion of the Pathfinder reservoir west of Casper, however, will allow some future new water supplies from the river for Wyoming communities along the Platte, along with some water to sustain whooping cranes, least terns and other endangered species downstream in Nebraska.
Supporting a Flaming Gorge pipeline has not, Juve acknowledges, made him popular in Southwestern Wyoming. He’s OK with that. “I don’t mind fighting with anybody, but I first want to know what we’re fighting about,” he says. “We are not trying to be adversarial with people in Sweetwater County. Obviously, they have interests that they have not fully defined yet.”