Water Rights Permits Wyoming 2019

Published: 10-02-2021| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/t3jg3j9yxj.1
Christopher Nicholson


The Wyoming State Engineer’s Office E-Permit Data. A total of 28,469 stream diversion records, 42,231 reservoir records, and 210,578 well records were downloaded in March 2019 from the SEO E-Permit Database. These records were downloaded in sets of under 10,000 records, since E-Permit cannot export more than 10,000 records at a time, and were only downloaded if they had a use designated as irrigation or stock. Uses such as coal bed methane were removed from this search. Once downloaded, the data were parsed using several criteria, making sure outlier permit data were adequately addressed. First, all surface (stream diversion and reservoir permits) and groundwater permits from 1945 to 2017 were compiled. This includes complete, adjudicated, unadjudicated, partially adjudicated, incomplete, cancelled, rejected, expired, and abandoned permits. Permits were further filtered by “use type” with all agricultural uses, including any permits with an irrigation or stock use, retained. Any well records that contain Certificate Records (CR) were removed, since all these wells are considered to be duplicates of adjudicated permits (SEO personal communication, 2019). All permits with missing latitude/longitude data were also removed. Because these data are to be spatially joined to the PDSI by Climate Divisions (discussed below), records without coordinates were not included. Finally, permit data from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and United States Forest Service (USFS) reservoir permits were removed from our analysis. A majority of USFS and BLM reservoir and stream diversion permits were applied for during individual years (1992 in the Belle Fourche, 1982 in the Bighorn and the Wind River, 1977 in the Green, and 1986 in the Snake), potentially due to changes in policy or federal involvement. For example, in 1982, the BLM and USFS made 120 out of the 150 total agricultural reservoir applications (80%) in the Bighorn Basin, while the average combined USFS and BLM reservoir applications is 53% throughout the study period. These peaks in federal permit applications during specific years appear to be the result of policy and not driven by climate conditions. Because this study evaluates drought impacts on infrastructure investments, removing permit applications that are assumed to be dominated by policy over climatic factors helps clarify the correlation.