Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate passed identical legislation to a bill introduced in January by U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., that would give Cheyenne the power to protect and store more Platte River water without releasing it downstream.
The Senate unanimously passed H.R. 1046, and the bill will now be sent to President Bush to be signed into law. The bill would authorize a 40-year contract between the Bureau of Reclamation and the City of Cheyenne for water storage in Seminoe Reservoir. Currently, Cheyenne is only permitted to enter into one-year water storage contracts. Such an important contract being up for yearly negotiations creates too much uncertainty for good long-term water planning, according to Enzi.
“The unpredictable Wyoming weather makes water planning a difficult task for everyone. But Cheyenne city managers have an even more difficult job because they cannot take a long-term planning approach when they are only allowed to enter into storage contracts on a yearly basis. This bill would allow a bit more peace of mind for Cheyenne residents who know their water storage is on a long-term plan.”
For the city to enter into the 40 year contract, the bill would require Cheyenne to pay reasonable accounting costs and its proportionate share of the operation, maintenance, and replacement costs for the reservoir while still protecting the water rights of other Seminoe Reservoir water users.
In 1983 Cheyenne and the Bureau of Reclamation entered into an interim water storage contract that provided the city with 10,000 acre feet of storage space at Seminoe Reservoir. Under the agreement, Cheyenne could store the water it released to fulfill its minimum flow requirements during the winter months and use that water during the spring and summer when consumption on Douglas Creek increases.
The House of Representatives unanimously passed companion legislation, which was introduced by Representative Cubin, on May 16, 2005.