Prior to using any water in the state, the appropriator is required to obtain a permit. The permit is the first step in acquiring a water right and it defines the conditions of use as well as the priority date. Once a permit has been issued, the permit holder may begin construction of the facility (well, ditch, reservoir, etc.) and begin beneficial use of Wyoming water.
Upon satisfying the conditions of the permit, the appropriator may file a notice of beneficial use and seek adjudication of the water right by the Board of Control (BOC). The employees involved in permitting and adjudication of water rights are primarily located in the Herschler Building in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Wyoming has an arid climate and most areas of the state experience water shortages at some point during the year. During these times, water is allocated to senior water users based upon the doctrine of prior appropriation and numerous Wyoming Statutes that support this doctrine. This administration and regulation is supervised by the agency's four Division Superintendents. Each Superintendent is located in one of the four Division offices (Torrington, Sheridan, Riverton, and Cokeville). Each Superintendent has a staff of Hydrographer / Water Commissioners that are located in 24 offices across the state. These employees are responsible to allocate water by field regulating headgates, pumps, stream diversions, etc
Wyoming is party to seven interstate water compacts and three interstate court decrees. These documents define the amounts of water that Wyoming must provide to downstream states. A staff of five employees in Cheyenne maintains contact with adjoining states and federal agencies to assure compliance with various compacts and decrees. Additionally, they monitor federal actions that might impair Wyoming's ability to use its water.