Cole encourages public to comment on the Wyo Water initiatives
Casper – Proposed initiatives for the Wyoming Water Strategy Plan were open for discussion in Casper at the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on June 4.
The meeting consisted of four separate sessions that discussed water development, water conservation and protection, water management and water and watershed restoration.
The completed initiatives were open for public comment, and the Wyoming Governor’s Office welcomes any comments, for and against the proposed initiatives, over the next several weeks. Of all the proposed initiatives, only five to 10 will be selected to be further expanded and contribute to the Governor’s Wyoming Water Strategy.
“This is the first opportunity for the public to look at and comment on the proposed initiatives, and we would like the public to weigh in on all of the initiatives,” commented Nephi Cole, policy advisor for Wyoming Governor Matt Mead. “We appreciate everyone’s feedback.”
“There are a range of benefits and challenges with each proposed initiative, and each initiative came from the nine listening sessions that were held throughout the state and attended by the general public,” Cole added.
Cole mentions the Governor’s Office has created multiple outlets for the public to comment and take surveys on which proposed initiatives they feel should be apart of the Wyoming Water Strategy.
All four of the water strategies session meetings were recorded and archived and will be made available on YouTube for anyone who wants to watch them.
“We are asking people to weigh in on the Facebook surveys about the initiatives, comment on the proposed projects for the plan and to tell us which initiatives they think are the most important to them,” encouraged Cole.
Cole emphasized the importance of filling out surveys.
Also, when people are filling out the surveys, he said it is important that they do not make all answers equal, but rather to thoughtfully rank importance. Equal answers make it very difficult to prioritize the initiatives and guide any decisions that need to be made to help the water strategy plan move forward.
“We hope that, as people answer those surveys, they will prioritize which issues they think are the most important in each subcategory thoughtfully and consider, if they were to select one or two initiatives for any given category, which ones would be the most important to them,” stated Cole.
“Out of the 50 pages of comments we received about the Water Strategy, we are going to have to wean down these initiatives down significantly,” commented Cole. “From the number currently present, we will reduce those suggestions to a manageable number of initiatives.”
He added, “The initiatives right now are very broad, but any initiative decided here will be expanded on extensively to be a very developed, thorough and planned-out operation.”
Cole continued, “Any operation and initiatives selected will involve key stakeholders, technical experts, and of course, the input of the agencies who will provide the oversight or the technical assistance on any given subject.”
“Like the Energy Strategy, the Governor’s Water Strategy will be built on a couple of initiatives,” stated Cole, “and those initiatives will be shared with agencies and become measurable and traceable on a number of administration and legislative levels, but also with the people of Wyoming.”
Development and management
With the amount of comments and suggestions the Governor’s Office received from the public, four different categories have been made in the Water Strategy.
These four areas – water development, water management, water conservation and protection and water and watershed restoration – are further subdivided to create all the initiatives that encompass all of the public’s concern with the proposed plan.
The water development section consists of initiatives that address hydropower, planning and funding for water development and both small and large storage reserves for water.
The water management initiatives include the areas of primacy and regulation, customer service and information about water.
Conserve and protect
Planning initiatives, coupled with conservation incentives and credible decision-making, make up the water conservation and protection section of the Water Strategy.
The last section of the water plan is water and watershed restoration, and it has two subcategories of initiatives, which are groundwater and surface water.
“These initiatives are a pool of possibilities that will lead to the making of the Water Strategy,” commented Cole.
Several meetings will be held across the state for public input and comments about the proposed initiatives, and the Governor’s Office will be accepting comments about the initiatives for the next 30 to 60 days.