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Washington, D.C. –Cheyenne is one step closer to signing a long-term contract that would help protect the city's water supply, according to U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who sponsored a bill that would secure Cheyenne's right to store water in Wyoming's Kendrick Project.

"Cheyenne has been forced to sign year-to-year contracts with the Bureau of Reclamation in order to maintain its storage rights," Enzi said. "The year-to-year status creates a lot of uncertainty in a situation that needs to be spelled out in concrete. It could be devastating to the city if it were to lose its storage rights, especially during the drought."

Enzi's bill would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to enter into a series of 40-year contracts with Cheyenne to store water in the Bureau of Reclamation facility. The Senate passed the legislation, S. 943, Wednesday by a voice vote.

The contracts are needed to capture water the city would otherwise lose to downstream users when it fills minimum flow requirements imposed by the United States Forest Service to enhance fish habitat in Wyoming's Hog Park and Douglas Creeks.

Enzi said the bill preserves the water rights of other water users in the Kendrick Project and requires the city of Cheyenne to pay reasonable accounting costs and its proportionate share of any operation, maintenance, and replacement costs for the project.

The bill will now be referred to the U.S. House of Representatives for further consideration.