Wyoming Regulates to Increase Pollution in its Streams

Western Watersheds Project

Lander, WY – The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has revised the state’s water quality standards on 76 percent of the state’s stream mileage to allow five times more fecal coliform bacteria in the water. The new standards allow 630 colony-forming units of Escherichia coli (“E. coli”) per 100 milliliters of water, far in excess of what the Environmental Protection Agency consider the upper limit of safety for human contact, 126 colony forming units in the same volume of water. Thus, the majority of Wyoming’s waters will now be unsafe for swimming, let alone drinking, according to national standards.

“Allowing cows to poop with impunity in Wyoming’s streams is apparently more of a priority than human health in the Cowboy State,” said Travis Bruner, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project, a non-profit conservation organization that conducts water quality sampling to monitor the effects of livestock grazing impacts on public lands.

Jonathan Ratner, Wyoming Director for the group, has been sampling water quality on public lands for over a decade. He says that the new standards ensure that many violations caused by livestock grazing will now be just fine. “I thought it was bad that these streams had two or three times the legal limit of E. coli before, but WY has effectively made highly contaminated water perfectly legal throughout much of the state.”

“The new standards are just part of a package for boot-licking the livestock industry,” said Bruner. “Last spring’s anti-monitoring legislation and last year’s lawsuit against conservation groups collecting water quality data are all part of the same agenda of letting the livestock industry have its way with the public trust.”

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For more information contact:
Jonathan Ratner, Western Watersheds Project (877) 746-3628
Travis Bruner, Western Watersheds Project (208) 788-2290



  1. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    Really outrageous, between this and the previous post.

  2. Rob Avatar

    Are there no federal regulations under the clean Water Act or elsewhere that regulate water quality on federal land?

  3. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    There are, I believe, but the government does not assert them. Just like the Pebble Mine in Alaska, that should be history now, but the government does not assert its authority. Inertia.

  4. Calvin Ledford Avatar
    Calvin Ledford

    This is absolutely absurd. Do you not know what you are doing? I don’t even live in Wyoming but I still care about this issue. I am a current college student for Wildlife and Forestry Conservation and Environmental Science. I live in Georgia, which is a darn good ways from Wyoming. This is absolutely a careless act upon Wyoming Legislation. Something needs to be done about. I personally will notify U.S. Government officials and the Environmental Protection Agency for a thorough review of this act of Legislation. WOW!!!!! This is totally unacceptable and completely a disrespect of Wyoming Residents and Tourist…..


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan