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Water Resources in Wyoming

Yellowstone River Groundwater Atlas

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 and 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

Wyoming State Geological Survey (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
  • Providing updates to the Bureau of Land Management on groundwater drawdown monitoring efforts for coalbed natural gas production in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming
  • Collaborating on the U.S. Geological Survey STATEMAP program on hydrogeologically important areas in Wyoming
  • Addressing public inquiries on Wyoming’s water resources and WSGS research efforts
  • Compiling and analyzing groundwater salinity data for Wyoming energy producing basins

Kurt Hinaman,