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WWRC 97-05u
Present and Future Impacts of the Big Sandy River Salinity Control Program on an Agricultural Community


The Big Sandy River of South West Wyoming is a tributary of the Green and Colorado River systems. The Big Sandy River and the associated irrigation district located in Farson had been identified as one of seven major sources of salt entering the Colorado river system. In 1988, in order to mitigate the impact salt had on the river the Federal Government created the Big Sandy Salinity Control Program. The goal of the salinity control program was to improve irrigation practices on agricultural lands by conserving water and thus reduce salt loading onto the river system.

To accomplish this goal on the Big Sandy River, the federal government implemented a cost share program with agricultural water users (70%-30% split) for sprinkler irrigation systems. From 1988 to 1996, one hundred irrigation systems were installed representing 8,620 acres and amounting to a cash outlay of over five million dollars by the government. It is estimated that a total of 30,000 tons of salt is saved annually.

Now as the Salinity control program winds down, what effect has this program had on the economy, the culture, and structure of the community of Farson? Further, is the Salinity Control Program sustainable?

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