Wyoming government continues its quest to make the state’s creeks legally safe for unlimited amounts of pathogenic cow flops.

With no notice to the general public or to nonagricultural or nonindustrial special publics, the DEQ has adopted new rules permitting 5 times more e. coli in almost 90,000 miles of Wyoming headwaters creeks. This is 76% of the stream miles in the state.

The new rules do not apply to national parks or to rivers or the densely populated parts of Wyoming (population density higher than 55 people per square mile). The affected streams are obviously those in places where cattle are allowed to range freely with little to no concern about the streambanks or fecal deposits into and around the streams. It also includes remote places with perhaps pristine creeks in the wilderness, roadless, and lightly developed national forests and BLM lands.

It looks like ag and industrial interest groups knew all about the rule change, but conservation and recreational interests only discovered the reclassification just as it was finished. The final step is an EPA hearing in Casper on Sept. 16 at the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission building..  The only public comments allowed will be at this hearing — no email, no postal mailed comments.

There is no indication that the welfare of Wyoming’s famed wildlife was considered at all in the process.

Wyoming’s DEQ is small and underfunded. It has little investigative capability. That is why the Western Watersheds Project has been privately monitoring water quality, at least until the Wyoming Legislature passed the “data trespass” law that makes it a crime for private citizens to gather data on water quality (and probably anything else) if they plan to turn the data over to the government. The law applies to all lands outside of cities where private land is crossed in order to access public land. The law is probably unconstitutionally vague and has other legal defects, and could be stuck down when, if ever it is enforced.

The new and superweak water quality standards might be a backup for the livestock industry in case the data trespass law is rejected by the courts. The new water quality standards would make water quality monitoring pointless because any s–thole would be legally clean enough.

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Wyoming media give details.
DEQ reclassifies Wyo.’s small streams. Jackson Hole Daily.
A Toxic Policy (opinion). Jackson Hole News and Guide.
DEQ lowers standard for E. coli in small Wyoming streams. Casper Star Tribune
Recreationists buck against lifting E. Coli limit for streams. Jackson Hole News and Guide.
Change in rule puts alpine waters at risk. Jackson Hole News and Guide

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

2 Responses to Wyoming to allow 500% more e. coli in rural and backcountry creeks

  1. avatar Joan says:

    As a nurse and biologist this makes perfect sense for a Government of idiots. What the Wyoming Government doesn’t realize is E. coli can live for a long time in water, soil and animals. Hunt those animals, eat those fish or even down stream migration of water into pristine creeks and Bingo Wyoming residents will have a major outbreak. The plague was from 500% pathogenic rat flop, high levels of E Coli + flowing water ways = danger to lives!! Think of that ag & industrial interest groups !!

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