In 2015 Governor Mead proposed the “10 in 10” initiative in the Wyoming Water Strategy Report. Stemming from this hasty proclamation, water developers have proposed the $80 million West Fork Reservoir on the West Fork of Battle Creek, which would impound 10,000 acre-feet of water in the Green River Basin in Wyoming. On every account the proposal is absurd.
Advocates of West Fork Reservoir tout the idea that ranchers and fish alike will see benefits from additional water storage, despite the fact that High Savory Reservoir is a mere 10 miles from the proposed dam. It is deceitful to insinuate that fish will benefit from a dam, when a hundred years of dam building has proven quite the opposite. Further, the Little Snake River contributes 60 percent of sediment into the Yampa River, which raises additional concerns as to the feasibility of a dam.
Developers say that the water would make up for irrigation shortages south of Rawlins, Wyoming. However, Wyofile reports that only 100 irrigators would benefit from additional water.
It seems the sole purpose of the proposed West Fork Reservoir is to keep water in Wyoming that the state doesn’t really need, especially when compared to other areas in the greater Colorado River Basin. Impounding water just because Wyoming can is an extremely shortsighted and outdated political position. The Colorado River is already a currently over-allocated system, and drawing more water is vastly irresponsible.
As the state continues to lose oil and gas revenue, the $40 million Wyoming proposes to spend upfront could easily be spent elsewhere in water restoration efforts, education and infrastructure improvements. Citizens in Wyoming take great pride in the pristine environments the state has to offer, and building excessive water projects to benefit a select few landowners goes against the values of Wyoming as a whole.