From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 30 - 3/23/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Conservation District to Begin Water Testing
Sampling will start with the New Fork
by Rob Shaul

The Sublette County Conservation District will begin water quality testing in Sublette County in May the County Commissioners were told at their meeting Tuesday.

Last year, the Conservation District approached the County and requested funding for personnel to sample water in streams throughout Sublette County and establish baseline data on water qualtiy. The Conservation District was concerned by the State Department of Environmental Quality's listing of several streams in Sublette County as "impaired" for various water quality issues, though no updated water quality data on those streams was cited. The Conservation District wanted to be proactive, and conduct the testing in-house so the county could address potential water quality challenges from the DEQ and Environmental Protection Agency. Many observers feel water quality will be the next large environmental issue to hit the West.

On Tuesday, Kathy Raper who was hired by the Conservation District to conduct the water quality testing, told the County Commissioners that sampling and testing would begin with the New Fork watershed. The District is in the currently process of identifying twenty separate testing sites in the New Fork watershed. Ms. Raper said testing would begin in May, and continue through November. The goal of the testing is to determine current water quality and establish a baseline to evaluate for future changes.

The current "hot" issue concerning water quality is Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) or the amount of sediment in the streams. Ms. Raper told the commissioners that she and the district would not limit their sampling to TMDL-related testing, but also test for pH, chloride, sulphide, and a battery of other specific water quality concerns.

Commission Chairman Bill Cramer asked if the testing procedure the Distict was using would hold up to DEQ and EPA scrutiny. Ms. Raper responded that it would, and that officials with the DEQ were actually pre-approving the District's water sampling plan.

Ms. Raper continued that the District was working with local landowners to gain access for water sampling on ranches in the County and would even consider keeping the testing data from private property confidential.

In addition to water quality testing, Ms. Raper told the Commissioners she was beginning to draft a "Natural Resource Statement" for the County which included researching historical uses of the land, and analyzing land use trends. She planned on holding public meetings concerning the "Statement," sometime in the future.

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