The city of Laramie is pushing back against a bill that would allow the University of Wyoming to control its own water supply. The city council passed a resolution this week strongly condemning that bill, even calling it unconstitutional.
If passed, the "University water system" bill would give UW the authority to drill its own wells and operate a water system independent of the city's.
Laramie City councilors expressed concern this week that if the university establishes its own water system, it would lead to a duplication of efforts, and a higher cost to taxpayers.
One of the main issues surrounds the watering of Jacoby Golf Course. Laramie officials say, if the city no longer watered the golf course, it would have to regularly flush its sewer system by opening fire hydrants.
Laramie Mayor Paul Weaver said local taxpayers will be paying twice - once for the city system, and once for the university system.
"It's not because I'm hot to trot to have a big agency fight with the University of Wyoming. That's dumb. I want to do as little of that as possible," he said. "It's that I don't think it's fair for our constituents, Laramie ratepayers, to have to deal with that double dip."
Councilor Erin O'Doherty said the bill could affect other communities throughout Wyoming, wherever UW owns land.
"I do think it was aimed toward Laramie," she said. "But it also affects people around the state, in Goshen County, Natrona County, Park County, Laramie County, Sheridan County, Teton County - because the university owns property in all those places. So could the university be setting up parallel water systems in all of these counties? It's not an efficient way to run water works. It's more efficient to consolidate.
Councilors are also worried that if the university draws too much water into their system, the city may have to redig and deepen their own wells to ensure water access for residents.
The bill is being debated in the Wyoming House of Representatives.