Order of the State Engineer - Laramie County Control Area
Responding to mounting concerns over increasing development and use of groundwater resources in the Laramie County Control Area (LCCA), State Engineer Pat Tyrrell issued an order on April 1, 2015 that will limit groundwater use for the next five years in the LCCA.
The Order replaces the State Engineer’s April 11, 2012 Temporary Order which established well spacing restrictions (horizontally and vertically) as well as use limitations for most new groundwater applications within the LCCA. The Temporary Order was initially scheduled to remain in effect until October 1, 2013, but was extended through March 31, 2014, June 30, 2014, and April 1, 2015.
Following issuance of the Temporary Order, the State Engineer's Office (SEO) embarked on a hydrogeologic study, the results of which were intended to, among other things, inform future groundwater management decisions whether through controls adopted by the State Engineer or by voluntary agreement as allowed by statute. The study (the AMEC Report) was completed and made available to the public on March 27, 2014.
On April 10, 2014, a public hearing was held before the Wyoming State Engineer and the Laramie County Control Area Advisory Board pursuant to Wyoming Statute § 41-3-915. On April 24, 2014, the Laramie County Control Area Advisory Board advised the State Engineer that the underground water in the Control Area is not adequate for the needs of all appropriators.
The LCCA encompasses approximately the eastern two-thirds of Laramie County Wyoming. Since the creation of the LCCA on September 2, 1981, groundwater levels have continued to decline as measured by the SEO’s groundwater monitoring network. Almost all groundwater production within the LCCA is from the High Plains Aquifer. The presence of these formations is not uniform throughout the LCCA. Water demand for irrigation dominates all other withdrawals in the LCCA, averaging 92 percent of total groundwater withdrawals during irrigation season. Three distinct areas of significant groundwater level declines occur in the Pine Bluffs, Carpenter, and Albin areas.
The AMEC Report provides one baseline scenario and four management scenarios modeling groundwater levels over the next fifty years (2010-2060) in the LCCA. Each management scenario modeled different permitting or groundwater production assumptions and estimates different groundwater levels as compared to pre-development conditions within the model area.
Based on the AMEC Report, four distinct areas, characterized by varying hydrogeologic conditions, were identified in the LCCA. In those areas, Tyrrell calls for well spacing requirements for all new wells which includes closing areas to further permitting of large capacity wells in the High Plains Aquifer, measuring and reporting water levels, limiting drawdowns to 20 percent of available water in wells, and requiring the installation of monitoring wells. In the order, Tyrrell also orders adjudication of all unadjudicated, non time-limited, non domestic and stock wells; and metering and reporting of total groundwater production from all non domestic and stock wells completed in the High Plains Aquifer.
The Order is in effect for a period of five years. Beginning November 16, 2019, the State Engineer will review the effects of the first three years of operation of the Order - therefore, the Order focuses largely on water use data acquisition through metering and reporting. At that time, the current Order will either remain in effect or be terminated, or a new Order will be issued. At any time, the Order may also be replaced by a voluntary agreement developed by groundwater appropriators in the LCCA.
State Engineer LCCA Order Download
Final Report: Hydrogeologic Study of the Laramie County Control Area, March 2014 (AMEC) (Corrected and Stamped, July 2014)
Errata Memo, July 2014
LCCA Fact Sheet
LCCA Map Download (PDF)
LCCA Map Download (JPG)
Open Letter from the State Engineer to LCCA Steering Committee
Required Adjudication, Meter Installation, and Water Production Reporting (Added November 1, 2016)
Guidance: Water Meter Selection Specifications and Water Production Reporting (Added January 8, 2016)
Hearing Presentation (Added March 5, 2020)
Written Comments Received
Summary of Comments