Proposed Revisions to Wyoming Surface Water Temperature Regulations

Human activity has the potential to alter a stream’s natural thermal regime both through point source thermal effluent and through indirect alteration of a watershed, commonly seen with intensive grazing and flow diversion. Because this anthropogenic stream warming can be detrimental to the aquatic life found in surface waters, the Environmental Protection Agency mandates that states establish and enforce regulations relating to surface water temperature.

Wyoming, like all states, faces the challenge of establishing regulations which are detailed enough to protect a wide variety of aquatic life, but are at the same time streamlined enough to be effectively implemented with the available budget, technology, and scientific knowledge. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is beginning an initial investigation into a potential revision of the existing temperature standards to incorporate advances in aquatic ecology and thermal monitoring technology.

We are investigating Wyoming fish species’ thermal needs and Wyoming surface water temperature regimes in order to provide a scientific background to the revisions process. Broadly, we hope to identify 1) the best way to classify fish into thermal guilds for management purposes (i.e. cold, cool, and warm water species), and 2) the thermal thresholds which would safely support these fish populations.

Gallery

Contact

Caitlin Peterson, MS Student
Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Dept 3166, 1000 E. University Ave
Laramie WY 82071
[email protected]
Dr. Annika Walters, Assistant Unit Leader Fisheries / Assistant Professor
Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Dept 3166, 1000 E. University Ave
Laramie WY 82071
[email protected]
Dr. Frank Rahel, Professor
Department of Zoology and Physiology
1000 E. University Ave
Laramie WY 82071
[email protected]

Project Lead

Caitlin is a M.S. student in the Walters lab working to evaluate and develop potential changes to the Wyoming surface water temperature regulations for aquatic life.

Timeline

2014-2015: Literature review and study design
Summer 2015: Field work in the Laramie River
2015-2016: Continue compilation of data from literature and data analysis
2016: Produce papers for publication

Funding & Partners

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Zoology and Physiology Department, University of Wyoming