WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 31, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) praised the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for passing two Barrasso water bills, the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) Transparency Act S. 593 and S. 1305, a bill that would expand the water storage capacity of the Fontenelle Reservoir in Wyoming.
“Today, the committee passed two important bills that will help improve the way we manage water in the West,” said Barrasso. “The BOR Transparency Act provides accountability by requiring Washington to detail the work needed to keep aging BOR water facilities operating safely and effectively – an important step in improving water storage and delivery.
“Additionally, expanding water storage in southwest Wyoming will give our farmers, ranchers and communities a reliable supply of water in order to keep their livestock and crops healthy. This bill will finally help move the much needed Fontenelle Reservoir expansion project forward, paving the way for Wyoming to further develop its water rights.”
Senator Barrasso and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the bipartisan Bureau of Reclamation Transparency Act (S. 593) on February 26, 2015. The bill requires the Secretary of the Interior to submit a report on the maintenance backlog of the Bureau of Reclamation to Congress. The legislation would help to provide a detailed assessment of the major repair and rehabilitation needs of Bureau of Reclamation owned and managed sites and projects. The bill also asks the Bureau to develop a similar assessment for sites that are owned by the Bureau, but managed by other entities.
Senator Barrasso introduced S. 1305 on May 12, 2015. The bill allows for the expansion of water storage at the Bureau of Reclamation’s Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County. This would be accomplished by completing the rip rap around the reservoir. A rip rap is a foundation or sustaining wall of stones or chunks of concrete connected together around the reservoir to prevent erosion.
The bill directs the State of Wyoming and the BOR to reach an agreement to allow Wyoming to complete the rip rap around the reservoir. The State of Wyoming would pay for the cost of completing this project. Wyoming would also have a right to the water that would be stored in the reservoir if the reservoir is completed by building the rip rap.
Despite multiple requests by the State of Wyoming in 2011 and 2014, the Bureau of Reclamation has not completed the needed National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance in order to move forward with the expansion of the Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County.