The Rawlins City Council has passed two new resolutions regarding water this month.

At the council’s second meeting of the month on March 16, city engineer Karl Smith spoke on these two topics.

First up was the discussion of ratifying the submission of water rights enlargement. According to Smith, the Wyoming Department of Transportation has historically purchased highway project water from Rawlins through the state engineer’s office via a temporary water use agreement.

However, the state engineer’s office prefers to no longer manage these agreements and would prefer for the city of Rawlins to temporarily enlarge its water rights and sell water directly to water users.

The enlargement would be for 10 million gallons per year, for a two-year term. The water is Rawlins’ right to use and Smith noted limiting the use of the water could harm the city, should anyone seek to file an abandonment of water rights based on their history of use.

“In other words, ‘use it or lose it’ could come up in the future,” Smith explained in the background information provided.

This change would simplify water management by the state engineer’s office and would improve the city’s ability to provide water to local users. However, this enlargement wouldn’t be just specific to WYDOT, as water sales would be managed by the city.

For example, WYDOT has requested 5 million gallons in a calendar year at a rate of $3 per 1,000 gallons.

Water would be pumped directly from the Platte River at Fort Steele and wouldn’t require any city infrastructure. The state engineer’s office has approved the city for an enlargement of both the service and municipal uses to include construction, industrial and other uses.

Rawlins’ water right is for municipal use in a defined service area. The enlargement was applied for and received late last year and would allow the city to sell water outside of the defined service area and expand uses to include industrial and construction by users such as WYDOT.

The enlargement must be applied for every two years and there is no financial impact to the city by having this enlargement.

No discussion was had from the council about the resolution.

Additionally, the council had to approve an intergovernmental agreement between the city and WYDOT to work cooperatively together on the sale of raw water for its projects. This could potentially net the city an additional $15,000 per year.

Plus, the city’s increased water use balance may be a benefit in the future.

The council unanimously agreed to pass the resolution and agreement during its meeting last week.

Ellen Fike is a freelance writer living in Cheyenne. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @EllenLFike.

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