Consulting firm updates water rightsWritten by Christy Hemken
Established in 1992, business has recently expanded into a new office, which has enabled it to add an entirely new department – the Land Survey Division, headed by Ken Shumway.
“The big reason we expanded the business was that we were getting requests from existing clientele and others to provide surveying services,” says owner and president Todd Rhodes. “Until this time we have not offered land survey services – we were strictly a water rights firm.”
Based on those numerous requests, however, and the shortage of surveyors in the state when compared to demand, Rhodes decided to expand the firm and add Shumway as a registered land surveyor. Services now include all forms of land surveying, including boundaries, elevation and construction.
After working for the U.S. Geological Survey and the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office, Rhodes saw a definite need for his type of services around the state. “I gave notice to the state and created my own consulting firm,” he says of his firm’s origin.
“Water rights are very important and a valuable asset to any property; they figure into the value of the property,” says Rhodes in relation to the original services of his business. “We research water rights and go out to meet with clients to look at how they’re using their water. Then we compare that with the actual water right to identify issues or conflicts before working to resolve those in the client’s best interest.”
“Most water rights in Wyoming are very old. The description of water rights in territorial claims left a lot to be desired in that they often don’t have a lot of detail about the places used and points of diversion,” says Rhodes. “After fast-forwarding over 100 years there have been land use changes, roadways and changes in the meanders of streams and rivers. The water right records can’t reflect all those changes unless those water rights have been updated.”
According to their service statement, the business has designed services to detect and correct any discrepancies between their clients’ water rights of record and their actual use of water before the situations become serious problems.
Wyoming Water Rights Consulting, Inc. works with all sectors of industry to satisfy their needs for water. “In Wyoming you can’t use water without having a water right first, and we help folks perfect their water rights and use them accordingly,” says Rhodes.
Rhodes expects the water rights division will continue to grow. “We’ve added staff with the growing needs for water rights assessments and to take on the additional surveying needs our clients have,” he says, adding there are currently five working from the office.
In addition to Shumway, who’s been a Professional Land Surveyor in Wyoming since 1982, Steve Hall now works for the firm as a survey technician with a background in computer aided drafting (CAD). Utilizing the latest in survey and mapping technologies, the firm can now offer a full line of professional services in answer to the growing needs of the agricultural, residential and industrial communities of the state.
The firm serves customers bordering every one of Wyoming’s neighboring states, and Rhodes says his employees appreciate the hard work and dedication of Wyoming’s farmers and ranchers. As such, the firm devotes most of its energies to serving the water rights and land survey needs of members of Wyoming’s agriculture industry.
“We focus on bringing water rights up to date in the client’s best interest,” says Rhodes. “We work hard with a client to protect their interests within the limits of the law.”
In addition to consulting, the firm is also the secretary/treasurer of the 24,000-acre Big Horn Canal Irrigation District. It’s working to update and computerize the District’s records from written and typed documents and hand drawn maps, while simultaneously comparing the water righted, irrigated and assessed acres to the ownership parcels using GIS technology to improve the operation and management of the District.