JACKSON, Wyo. — Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality is drawing criticism for a plan to downgrade thousands of miles of streams as not suitable for recreation like swimming, fishing and floating.
Critics have raised concerns about the quality of the analysis and whether it will subject thousands of miles of streams to higher levels of fecal bacteria, The Jackson Hole News and Guide reported (http://bit.ly/2eGw7EI).
DEQ water protection manager David Waterstreet said that while the hydrological model used in the analysis was found to be 95 percent accurate, it’s an overgeneralization to say that 5 percent of streams were improperly rated.
“That’s just a measure of the accuracy of the model itself,” Waterstreet said. “That’s a validation that the model that we used and the assumptions that we made were 95 percent accurate. It doesn’t speak to on-the-ground 5 percent of the streams (being) incorrectly designated.”
Agency officials have defended the analysis. Spokesman Keith Guille said there is a process in place for people to work with the agency on improvements.
“We are closer today than where we were before this analysis started,” Guille said. “There was no accuracy” before the analysis.
People have until Oct. 31 to submit comments before the plan goes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for consideration.
“If there are areas where we have missed,” Guille said, “there is a path for the public to come to us and work with us … to make this analysis even better.”
Members of the Wyoming Outdoor Council said they intend to work with the EPA to completely scrap the plan.
“We think that the state used such a broad-brushed approach that it ended up improperly downgrading perhaps thousands of miles of stream segments” that people currently use for swimming and other recreation, council attorney Dan Heilig said.
Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com