Responding to mounting concerns over increasing development and use of groundwater resources in southeast Wyoming, State Engineer Pat Tyrrell issued an order Wednesday that will temporarily limit groundwater development for 18 months while the area's groundwater resource will be re-appraised.

A public meeting will be held on May 3rd at 6:00 p.m. in Room B 63 or the Herschler Building to give the State Engineer's Office an opportunity to present the temporary plan to the public and to allow residents to ask questions.

More specifically, the order was issued for the Laramie County Control Area, which encompasses approximately the eastern two thirds of the county. According to a news release, the control area still sees growing water demands from subdivision development, irrigation and municipal uses, as well as increasing demand for water for drilling wells in the Niobrara Oil Shale play.

In the order, Tyrrell calls for wells that are drilled for domestic and stock watering uses to be spaced such that no more than one well is drilled per lawfully subdivided lot, or in the case of other legal parcels of land, nor more than one well per 10 acres will be allowed, if the target water source is the high plains aquifer system. Additionally, such wells will be limited in allowable annual use to 1-acre foot.

Miscellaneous use wells drilled in the high plains aquifer system that will produce 25 gpm or less will be required to be a minimum of 1-mile apart and will be limited to a maximum annual use of 2-acre feet per acre. Miscellaneous use wells producing greater than 25 gpm, as well as irrigation, industrial, and municipal use wells will be required to be drilled into the deeper Lance formation or the Fox Hills Sandstone, and can be spaced no closer than one mile from an existing well in the same groundwater source.

Wells drilled in the Lance formation or the Fox Hills Sandstone for domestic and stock watering use will not be restricted to any minimum spacing requirements.