SAWS addresses wetland mitigation efforts

SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Area Water Supply Joint Powers Board discussed the best way to finalize mitigation efforts on the Twin Lakes Wetlands projects it is working on with the Bighorn National Forest at its meeting Wednesday.

The board authorized signing an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for investigating, developing and maintaining the nation’s water and related environmental resources, to pay $89,000 for wetlands improvement projects as long as the Corps assures that the payment will finalize SAWS mitigation obligations under its permit with the Corps.

SAWS project manager Dan Coughlin said the Twin Lakes were enlarged about 20 years ago. During the enlargement, there were wetlands that got inundated so they had to be replaced.

Different types of wetlands had to be replaced and certain acreages of each type had to be reestablished in the Twin Lakes area.

The Fens Wetlands, which are mineral rich wetlands fed by surface water or groundwater, fell short of the numbers in the agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Everyone, including the Corps, agrees that this is a nice situation up there. It’s evolving just the right way, but it doesn’t meet the permit,” Coughlin said.

SAWS and the Forest Service began looking for alternate ways to compensate for the shortage. They discovered the Swamp Creek wetlands area that needs some work to prevent erosion. SAWS will propose providing funds for mitigation in Swamp Creek and further funds for a group that is studying Fens Wetlands in order to meet its permit obligations.

SAWS will provide $67,000 in funding, and the city of Sheridan will provide the remaining $22,000, according to the agreement.
SAWS will submit the agreement to the Army Corps with a cover letter asking them to assure that the payment will release SAWS from any further obligations. If the Corps agrees, the funds will be signed over.

Once that occurs, SAWS will be able to transfer the permit for Twin Lakes to the city.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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