Water Resources in Wyoming

Water resources in Wyoming and across the West are renewable but often limited in supply. Annual precipitation is the source of both surface water and groundwater. Water availability can vary based on the amount and distribution of annual precipitation. A limited water supply can lead to water shortages, which can impact a wide variety of municipal, agricultural, and industrial uses. As a headwaters state, Wyoming’s water resources can also be impacted by an increase in population in downstream states.

While Wyoming’s water resources are constitutionally the property of the state, Wyoming is legally bound – through river compacts and decrees – to provide a set volume of flow or a percentage of total river flows to other states in the region. These legal agreements regulate the delivery of water from Wyoming to users in downstream states.

Wyoming’s water resources consist of water in the solid, liquid, and gas phases, and include surface water, groundwater, precipitation (rain, sleet, hail, and snow), snow fields, ice fields, glaciers, and water vapor in the atmosphere. Wyoming’s water resources are used for agriculture (crop irrigation and livestock watering), domestic supply, public water system supply, lawn/garden watering, fish hatching/rearing, environmental purposes (groundwater remediation and monitoring), electric power generation, recreation, and numerous industrial purposes.

The WSGS Hydrogeology Group

WSGS hydrogeologists conduct research, compile data, create maps and reports, address inquiries and provide analysis of groundwater and surface water issues to better assist citizens, industry leaders, state and federal resource managers, county planners, and decision makers.

Current Activities

  • Compiling, writing, and editing river basin groundwater studies for the Wyoming Water Development Commission (WWDC)
  • Collaborating with the WWDC and Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to review Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) methodology and data from the EPA’s Pavillion Groundwater monitoring wells
  • Providing updates to the Bureau of Land Management on groundwater drawdown monitoring efforts for coalbed natural gas production in Powder River Basin, Wyoming
  • Compiling and analyzing geothermal information for the U.S. Department of Energy
  • Collaborating on the USGS State Map program on hydrogeologically important areas in Wyoming
  • Addressing public inquiries on Wyoming’s water resources and WSGS research efforts

Information on Wyoming Groundwater         PRB Report

Information on Wyoming Surface Water         River Basin Plan Reports