Wyoming Water Forum

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Presenter Information

The Water Forum season runs from September to May, at 10 am, on the second Tuesday of each month. Presenters are welcome in person at the Water Water Development Office in Cheyenne, WY or virtually from anywhere.

Presenters, please submit with the Presentation Submission Form above and Mel Fegler will confirm your date via email. There often is a need for back up presentations. 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

All presentation spots are filled, but please fill out the form in the event of a cancellation

Google Meet joining info

Video call link: https://meet.google.com/gyr-agmu-psd

Or dial: ‪(US) +1 574-208-4178‬ PIN: ‪968 556 746‬#

September 13, 2022: Sarah Collins, Update on UW Microbial Source Tracking Research

Sarah Collins is an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Zoology and Physiology at the University of Wyoming. She is an aquatic ecosystem ecologist who works on nutrient cycling, food web dynamics, and water quality in lakes and streams.

For the past 3 years, we completed a WRP-funded microbial source tracking project to examine the source of bacterial pollution in the Laramie River and in Fish & Flat Creeks in Teton County. Our team used multiple approaches to quantify E. coli, identify pollution sources, and assess spatial and temporal changes in the microbial community. I will discuss results from the project and other outcomes of our work.

October 11, 2022: Josh Leonard, Aquatic Invasive Species Overview, Impacts and Ongoing Prevention Efforts in Wyoming

Josh Leonard currently serves as the Statewide Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Josh provides oversight and direction to a team of 60 AIS specialists and technicians in the implementation of the state's watercraft inspection and decontamination program. Josh regularly coordinate with other western states AIS programs for a larger western wide AIS initiative.

An overview of AIS, the impacts they can cause to water delivery infrastructure and the ongoing efforts WY Game and Fish Department is doing to prevent their introduction.

November 8, 2022: Justin Bowen, Building a decision support tool for watershed managers with a water right data approach

Josh Bowen is a PhD student in the Hydrologic Science program at the University of Wyoming. His is on understanding the relationships between water right data, water management, and hydrologic processes. Currently, Josh is working with the Popo Agie and Clear Creek Conservations Districts to build models that allow for convenient data mining and infrastructure change scenarios.

Understanding the influence irrigation has on hydrologic processes from the HUC 12 level watershed to the HUC 8 level watershed. This includes mapping of water rights and irrigation canals and model building to simulate how water and associated losses are distributed among involved HUC 12 watersheds.

December 13, 2022: Ashleigh Pilkerton, Sediment and Fisheries: An Assessment to Inform Sediment Management Practices at Wyoming Dams

Ashleigh Pilkerton's research addresses multiple aspects of water quality in the Western US. As a PhD student at the University of Wyoming, she is working to better inform our understanding of the relationships between sediment and fisheries through synthesizing the current state of knowledge of sediment effects on fisheries and evaluating metrics and approaches for assessing sediment levels in rivers. Most recently, she is developing projects related to harmful cyanobacterial blooms in Wyoming reservoirs to understand the impacts on zooplankton communities and fish resource use.

Dams have notable effects on fluvial transport and downstream river morphology, with sediment trapping behind dams, and the consequential reduction of sediment loads downstream of dams, being the most pervasive effects. Due to the important role of sediment in the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of aquatic ecosystems, the disruption in sediment transport presents a monumental challenge for managers. Traditionally, sediment is released during flushing operations with aims to evacuate the greatest volume of sediment with little consideration for downstream aquatic life. Managers are concerned how to best tackle reservoir sedimentation whilst protecting downstream aquatic ecosystem.

Our research demonstrates the potential to protect sensitive spawning habitat and aquatic life while meeting dam operational needs and provides a suite of metrics and models to predict impacts of controlled sediment flushing operations. Through intensive in-situ sampling paired with long-term monitoring data, we developed models capable of predicting the rates of fine sediment deposition on spawning substrate and hyporheic dissolved oxygen at biologically relevant depths. In addition to sharing suggested methods for real-time monitoring of controlled sediment flushing operations, we provide a cost-benefit analysis for managers to balance financial investment with model accuracy.

This research enhances our understanding of effective metrics for monitoring sediment releases from dams and mitigating downstream impacts on fisheries, biological systems and fluvial processes. It equips managers and stakeholders with site-specific knowledge to best protect and maintain downstream fisheries and other aquatic life in the Shoshone River, with broad applications to dam sediment management worldwide.

January 10, 2023: Nick Scribner, WY Fish Passage Prioritization Tool

Nick Scribner has been working for WGFD since 2005 in various capacities including both terrestrial and aquatic habitat work focused on building partnerships to implement habitat improvement work across western WY. In 2015, Nick moved into his current role as fish passage coordinator with statewide responsibilities. Nick's duties are quite expansive including data inventory/collection, grant writing, budget development, project management, and collaborating with various water users, NGOs, and other government agencies to implement projects that enhance connectivity for fish and other aquatic wildlife. Witnessing these projects meet the multiple uses of people while also greatly benefitting the aquatic ecosystem has been very satisfying and will be long-lasting.

Since WGFD began its fish passage program in 2009 there has been a long-term goal of developing a database and tool to help understand the magnitude of passage concerns across WY and prioritize project areas. Over the past 10 years, various personnel inventoried hundreds of irrigation diversions, road crossings, and natural barriers across Wyoming waterways to help populate this dataset. But, that was just a fraction of potential sites within the state. In 2020, the USFWS Region 6 office provided funding to expand efforts of the Southeast Aquatic Resource Partnership (SARP) to build a passage prioritization tool similar to their work in the SE United States. In fall 2021, a draft of the tool was ready with inventory data from various sources across the state including USFS, BLM, SEO, WGFD, WWDC, USFWS, and other publicly available datasets. This tool provides a way to assist with prioritizing future passage projects and a great visual to understand the hurdles fish may need to navigate as they move up and down our state's waterways. The tool is a living database and continues to be updated behind the scenes as sites are inventoried, ground-truthed, and uploaded to be analyzed. We're excited to share the background data, output, and visuals of the tool and how it can be used to help with future passage restoration efforts across WY.

February 14, 2023: Bryan Shuman, Imagining the future of the Snake, Green, and Wind Rivers: The University of Wyoming WYACT project

Bryan Shuman is a Wyoming Excellence Chair professor in the University of Wyoming Department of Geology and Geophysics, and director of the UW-National Park Service Research Station at the AMK Ranch in Grand Teton National Park. Shuman is one of four science leads for the WYACT project, along with colleagues in the UW departments of Botany and Atmospheric Sciences as well as the UW Haub School. Shuman's research focuses on studying paleoclimates and paleohydrology to help inform understanding of climate-related risks today.

WY-ACT: Wyoming Anticipating Climate Transitions is a five-year, $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to UW that allows researchers to work with Wyoming’s communities to deal with expected significant and lasting changes in water availability. The project will focus on future scenarios for the Snake, Green, and Wind/Bighorn river basins. It also includes establishment of a Laboratory for Regional Earth System Modeling; the launch of a Center for Climate, Water and People; and investment in new capabilities centered at the UW-NPS Research Station. Five new faculty positions initially will be supported by the NSF grant.

March 14, 2023: Nicole Twing, WDEQ's RBDMS Groundwater Data Warehouse

Nicole Twing, P.G. is a Geology Supervisor with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Water Quality Division. She currently works in the Groundwater Pollution Control Program, overseeing legacy groundwater clean-up sites, Federal Facility Program sites, as well as groundwater special projects. She has also worked in the Underground Injection Control Program at the DEQ.

Introduction to and overview of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality's groundwater data warehouse, RBDMS.

April 11, 2023: Trout Unlimited Demand Management Demonstration Project Update

May 9, 2023: Ryan McShane, A regional streamflow drought early warning system prototyped for the Colorado River Basin

Ryan McShane is a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Wyoming–Montana Water Science Center in Cheyenne, researching water availability in rivers, including projects on predicting headwater streamflow in the Upper Green River Basin, streamflow drought in the Colorado River Basin, and streamflow permanence in the Columbia River and Upper Missouri River Basins, and modeling national water use for unconventional oil and gas development and other mining and industrial uses. He has also worked for USGS as a fish biologist in Reno, Nevada, studying threatened and endangered species in lakes, rivers, and wetlands of the Great Basin and Sierra Nevada.

Drought is a persistent problem for water resource management across the United States, and research predicts an increase in average drought duration and severity in future decades for most of the Western U.S. Our team has been exploring data-driven methods, including random forest and long short-term memory models, to deliver early warning of streamflow drought at high spatial and temporal resolution in a regional prototype developed for the Colorado River Basin. Models have been built using 40 years (1980–2020) of streamflow data from 425 U.S. Geological Survey streamgages within and surrounding the Colorado River Basin and numerous remotely sensed and gridded climatic and land surface and subsurface variables. Preliminary results will be discussed for streamflow drought forecasts of onset, severity, intensity, and duration from 1 day to 6 months in advance.