SWEETWATER COUNTY — During Tuesday night’s Green River and Rock Springs City Council meetings, both Councils approved the formation of the Sweetwater County Water Users Coalition which is replacing the Communities Protecting the Green Committee.
Both Councils approved the dissolution of the Communities Protecting the Green Committee before approving the cooperative agreement between Sweetwater County, and the cities of Green River and Rock Springs to form the Sweetwater County Water Users Coalition.
The Sweetwater County Commission approved the formation during its April 20 meeting.
According to Sweetwater County Commission Chairman Randy Wendling, the primary reason for the creation of the Communities Protecting the Green Committee was to take legal action if water ever was to be diverted from the Green River.
“It was basically a committee that was stood up to prepare to be a litigation committee, to not hesitate if there was any diversion of water from the Green to out of state,” he said. “We had the power to file an injunction without any approval, basically, from the two cities and the county, and that’s a lot of money.”
However, Wendling said that a consultant hired by the Sweetwater County Joint Powers Water Board said that it was “foolish” to put money into a committee for injunction purposes, as there are several conservation groups who will file injunctions if water is ever diverted from the Green River.
Therefore, the purpose of the coaltion has changed, according to Wendling. The Sweetwater County Water Users Coalition Committee will not have a focus on filing injunctions, but will instead will focus on the following purposes:
- Advise and consult with the parties hereto concerning water matters.
- Represent the interests of all Sweetwater County water users and all uses of surface waters of the Green River Basin within the geographic boundaries of Sweetwater County.
- Encourage the optimal utilization of water resources to promote responsible community and economic development that is in balance with the environment.
- Act as “Sponsor” for State and/or Federal Programs to obtain funding for studies, programs and/or projects.
- Promote the use of water in an economical and environmentally responsible manner for industrial, mineral, agricultural, and recreational purposes.
- Help ensure that water resources are managed, developed, and maintained for the enjoyment and beneficial use of current and future generations of Sweetwater County and its communities.
- Work with the State of Wyoming to protect its Colorado River water rights for the benefit of Sweetwater County and the rest of Wyoming within the requirements of the Colorado Basin Compact and the Upper Basin Compact.
- Educate the residents of Sweetwater County on issues related to the Green River and Colorado River Basins.
On April 20, the Commission approved the appointments of Bryan Seppie and Richard Mathey as the County at large members of the coalition, and to have Wendling represent the County. On Tuesday, the Green River City Council approved the county at large appointments as well as appointed Jason Palmer to serve as the Green River representative. The Rock Springs City Council approved the county at large appointments as well, and appointed Eddie Baker as their city representative.