With drought and climate change creating water shortages in lower desert states, Wyoming is looking for more ways to store its share of Colorado River water. Last week, a bill sponsored by Representative Cynthia Lummis that would expand the storage capacity of Fontanelle Reservoir on the Green River in southwest Wyoming passed the House Natural Resources Committee unanimously.
Lummis says Wyoming needs more water to grow.
“Our communities need it, our agriculture needs it, our ability to produce power needs it,” she says. “And if we are to grow in our industrial capacity or manufacturing capacity and to grow our cities, towns and counties, definitely water could be a limiting factor.”
Fontanelle Reservoir was partially built in the 1960's but needs the Bureau of Reclamation's approval to be completed.
Lummis says, if the bill makes it through Congress, the project could add another 100,000 acre feet of water storage capacity in Wyoming. That could supply a city of 800,000.
“This will allow for the state of Wyoming, who will pay for the project of riprapping around the reservoir to complete it,” she says. “And of course, rip rap is, oh, chunks of concrete or stone that are used to raise the level of the reservoir and prevent erosion so it can store more water.”
Lummis says Wyoming could store water at high elevations for desert states like California or use the water to grow its own agricultural and power sectors.