Wyoming Water Forum

May 14, 2024: Demand Management Demo Project Update 

Trout Unlimited, Strike Consulting Group, University of Wyoming

Please Scroll Down for Previous Presentations, Shared Links, & Agency Updates

Subscribe to Wyoming Water Forum  listserv for Updates

Presenter Information

The Water Forum season runs from September to May, at 10 am, on the second Tuesday of each month. Virtual presentation is welcome.

Presenters, please submit with the Presentation Submission Form above and Mel Fegler will confirm your date via email. There are occasions the the need for back up presentations occurs. If there are no vacancies we still encourage you to submit

Itinerary: 10 am - Primary Presentations, 10:45 am - Questions, 11 am - Agency/Organizational Updates, 12 pm - Adjourn 

Presenter sign up is full for the 2024 season, but there are occasions we need someone to fill in. Feel free to fill out the presenter form and if your presentation is not needed this season you will get first dibs for next season. 

Water Forum 2023-2024 Season Presenter Introductions

September 12, 2023

Samir Budhathoki, is currently a  Ph.D. student at University of Wyoming in Energy and Petroleum Engineering. Samir is from a small town of Mid western Nepal from a small village of Manpur, Dang, Nepal. He completed his B.E. in Civil engineering and joined UW at Spring 2018, his MS in Civil with an emphasis in the Environmental engineering from University of Wyoming in the Summer of 2021 with a research focused on the Adsorption isotherms leading towards the application of carbon sequestration. Samir's research interest includes CO2 capture, CO2 sequestration, Adsorption and desorption isotherm studies, Clean energy development, and Water and waste water treatment. 

Samir will be presenting his work on the significance of the critical minerals and rare earth elements is important for the increasing standards of living for most of the world's population and meeting the targets for the low-carbon society to manage the climate change impacts. Critical Minerals (CMs) are essential and add value to economic and national security. U.S. legislation defines them as the minerals necessary for the manufacturing of crucial products and have supply chains that are vulnerable to disruptions. European Union (EU) defines CMs as the "Critical Raw Materials" of high importance to the EU economy and the Australian Geoscience society Headquarters defines them as "Metals and non-metals considered vital for the economic well-being of the world's major and emerging economies". Several public and private organizations have developed policies and investment strategies to mitigate the risks associated with critical mineral production. 

October 10, 2023

Pallavi Pokharel is a 24-year-old first-year graduate student from the University of Wyoming. She is a graduate student at the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources. Pallavi is passionate about water and hence is working on climate adaptation research to basically understand the human perception of change amidst the changing water availability. She aims to explore stories around water and her thesis has been to understand the qualitative value people place to. water. She enjoys participating in different events and activities that directly incline with water. In the spare time, she enjoys dancing, singing and cooking. 

Pallavi is investigating how Wyoming residents, in particular, ranchers/farmers and people involved in recreation relate to water or perceive water. She intends to gain understanding in the values and perceptions people place to water and hence wish to ignite meaning, start dialogues and in the long run, build adaptive capacities amidst the ongoing changes in water availability in Wyoming, especially in Snake River and Green River watersheds. 

November 14, 2023

Sarah Collins is an Assistant Professor in Zoology and Physiology at the University of Wyoming. Her lab studies freshwater ecosystem ecology. 

Sarah will summarize work her lab has done on harmful cyanobacterial blooms in an initial WRP Project (2020-2023) where we used remote sensing data to analyze long-term trends in lake productivity and collected field samples to verify remote sensing data. She will also introduce our plans for a new WRP project (2023-2026) also on HCBs, but with a focus on cyanotoxins. 

December 12, 2023

Shari Meeks manages both the Range and Surface Water programs for Sublette County Conservation District in Pinedale, Wyoming. She has worked in natural resources since her youth, taking every opportunity to learn about soils, agriculture, and watershed function. Shari lives in Bondurant, Wyoming with her son and husband. 

Quantity of water has taken the headlines in the Colorado River Basin as of late; however, quality of water is just as important. This presentation focuses on using in-stream water quality monitoring data to determine sources of salinity in the Upper Green watershed and isolate areas that contribute the greatest load into the Green River. This project was completed as a Master's project using 23 years of water quality monitoring data from Sublette County Conservation District. 

January 9, 2024

Austin Madson is an assistant professor at the University of Wyoming within the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center (WyGISC) and the School of Computing. His research centers around the application of geomorphic, hydrologic, cryologic, and vegetative remote sensing. Recent projects within that realm focus on post-wildfire surface water quality, wildfire fuel loading, landslide monitoring, lake/reservoir dynamics, hydrologic un/loading, and vegetation monitoring (large and small scale). Some tools and methods utilized include cluster/parallel computing, novel AI/ML workflows, UAV/airborne lidar, and high-resolution multispectral imagery. 

The first part of this presentation will center around an overview of the NASA DEVELOP National Program (of which this project was a part of) and how that may fit in to different state entities and stakeholders in Wyoming. The second portion of the presentation focuses on a specific NASA DEVELOP project that was undertaken at UW during the fall 2022 and spring 2023 semesters. In that regard, this presentation will discuss the work that was done to utilize high resolution remote sensing data products along with watershed models to get at a better understanding of which watersheds are contributing more sediment into the Shoshone River above Willwood Dam. 

February 13, 2024: 

Cheyenne's Water Supply 

Sarah Bargsten with Board of Public Utilities will speak on behalf of the City of Cheyenne's water supply and the water conservation efforts BOPU engage in, and those offered to the public. The presentation covers surface water and groundwater supplies for Cheyenne, risks for shortage, and ways to prepare and adapt.

Sarah Bargsten brings technical knowledge and a collaborative spirit from a career in environmental science to her position as Water Conservation Specialist for the City of Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities. In this role, she is working with stakeholders in careful stewardship of our water resources to ensure a sustainable future for Cheyenne. 

March 12, 2024: Eli Boardman 

Advances in Water Supply Forecasting: Fusion of Airborne Snow Maps & Physical Modeling 

Water supply forecasts help inform water management and use expectations in Wyoming, where most precipitation falls as winter snow while most consumption occurs in the summer. Accurate forecasts of runoff volume on daily to seasonal timescales are important for planning effective responses to drought, surplus, or flood conditions, but a lack of available high-quality data has historically reduced forecast reliability in mountainous areas like the Wind River and Green River watersheds. The Bureau of Reclamation recently funded a 3-year project by Mountain Hydrology LLC to deploy airborne snow surveys over the Wind River Range and integrate these data into operational water supply forecasts. In partnership with Airborne Snow Observatories, Inc., we will combine airborne laser scanners (lidar), high-elevation backcountry fieldwork, and state-of-the-art distributed physical hydrological models to generate water supply forecasts for headwaters basins of the Wind River and Green River. Here, we present an outline of the project motivation, goals, and a discussion of the new data that local managers and stakeholders can expect to receive. Additionally, we explore the potential expansion of remotely sensed snow surveys and distributed physical hydrology models for additional watersheds in Wyoming. 

April 9, 2024: Theo Barnhart

Future Streamflow Estimates Suggest a Shift in Streamflow Magnitude and Timing by the End of the Century - Preliminary Results from the Tongue River 2100 Project 

Theo Barnhart is a Research Physical Scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center. His research focuses on understanding the hydrology of mountain systems. Theo uses observational datasets as well as hydrologic and snow models to address questions about how streamflow is generated from the mountain snowpack, how streamflow might change in the future, and how our assumptions in environmental models influence simulation results. 

The Tongue River 2100 project seeks to understand how streamflow in the Tongue River watershed might change by the end of the century. The Tongue River starts in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming and flows north to join the Yellowstone River at Miles City, Montana. The project is working closely with the Northern Cheyenne Tribe to co-produce knowledge enabling data-driven water management and planning in the Tongue River Basin. Other project partners include the Tongue River Water Users Association, the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office, and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. The project is using a published database of future hydrology data generated using downscaled climate model output from the Fifth Phase of the Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project (CMIP5). The downscaled climate data are used as input for the Variable Infiltration Capacity model (VIC) at a 1/16th degree resolution (~6 km) to produce daily hydrology estimates from 1950 to 2099. Two future climate scenarios were modelled, one representing business as usual emissions (RCP 8.5) and one representing moderated emissions (RCP 4.5) for 32 different general circulation models (GCMs). The modeled scenarios will be coupled with a river system model which will be used to produce naturalized streamflow estimates to bias correct future hydrology estimates and represent water use and management activities in the watershed. Preliminary analysis of the future climate hydrology data suggests earlier and decreased peak streamflow, but relatively unchanged annual streamflow volumes by 2100. Increased streamflow in September and October by the end of the century also suggest that fall precipitation, which previously fell as snow, may transition to rain in the future, altering the seasonality of streamflow in the watershed, which may require changes in reservoir management. 

May 14, 2024: Demand Management Demo Project Update

Wyoming Department of Health WPHL Microbiology Water Testing Announcement