"Takes a complete inventory of your water, assess all the potential harm that can happen to it and address ways to mitigate the harm." USDA Water Source Specialist Miles Edwards
One of the most valuable resources the earth offers is water, which is why one Casper man is proposing a statewide water protection plan for the state of Wyoming. USDA Source Water Specialist Miles Edwards says, "If you want to look at Wyoming as a source we head water five major rivers of the United States."
Wyoming is home to a good portion of the nation’s water, which means anything we do can have a big impact on states hundreds if not thousands of miles away. "About 25 percent of the population of the United States gets their water from one side or the other of the state of Wyoming. So the quality of water in Wyoming becomes an essential conversation all the way to New Orleans," Edwards said. Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems Executive Director Mark Pepper agrees. "Protecting the source water that we have is paramount because it provides so much to everyone."
The Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems is looking to develop a new program to test all surface water and ground water sources in the state; it would not only allow communities to identify their key water sources, but also potential sources of contamination. "Takes a complete inventory of your water, assess all the potential harm that can happen to it and address ways to mitigate the harm," Edwards said and Pepper agrees. "Certainly if we were able to get to a point where we had one catalog you could go to get it all that would certainly be optimal."
It’s a lot like a contingency plan for Wyoming, just in case some type of accident were to happen contamination one of Wyoming’s water ways; the state would have an idea of what to do. "You pre-plan. It's like anything else you do in your homes. I have a snow shovel in my garage, it's not snowing, but I’m ready in the fall and the winter when it does. So I’ve pre-planned for that," Edwards said.
Wyoming Rural Water Systems does do source water protection plans for communities throughout Wyoming, but in order to do a program like this, where you’re putting together a library for the whole state, it’s going to take some time.
'It's a massive undertaking to get 96 thousand square miles of information crammed into one place. So that's probably the only concern," Pepper said.
The documents will also have to be updated every few years. "So much can happen in a 2-3 year window that you always have to constantly update them. It's a living document," Pepper said.