WEBINAR: Western Resource Advocates on August 25, 2020 "Lake Powell Pipeline Leaky Proposal Does'nt Hold Water Under Scrutiny"
Surrounding states bash Utah’s Lake Powell pipeline project By Brian Maffly of Salt Lake Tribune September 9, 2020
All of Utah’s partner states sharing the Colorado River’s water are urging the federal government to halt the Lake Powell pipeline, opening a schism in the interstate compact that has divvied up the mighty river’s flow for the past century.
In a joint letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Tuesday, those states asked the secretary to block the Bureau of Reclamation from completing its ongoing environmental impact statement (EIS) “until such time the seven Basin States and the Department of the Interior are able to reach consensus regarding outstanding legal and operational concerns raised” by the project.
Lower basin states have agreed to cutbacks needed to stabilize levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell. But that hasn’t deterred Utah from pursuing its plan to suck 86,000 acre-feet a year from Lake Powell to feed further growth around St. George.
On Tuesday, the public comment period expired on Reclamation’s draft EIS, paving the way for a final decision in the coming months.
Environmental opponents of the project contend Utah’s fast-growing Washington County can meet its water needs from local sources and conservation and its construction costs will lead to crushing tax hikes. Major southwestern cities have achieved sharp reductions in per-capita water use while St. George continues to consume water at some of the fastest rates in the region.
But until Tuesday, Utah’s compact partners had remained silent on their opposition, at least publicly. Their letter to Interior contends the project, should it win approval, would be bogged down in litigation for years.
Todd Adams, director of the Utah Division of Water Resources, sounded an optimistic note that the states’ differences can be worked out.
“As Colorado River Basin States, we’ve resolved complex challenges and concerns before, and we will do the same now. We remain committed to working with the other basin states to mitigate their legal and operational concerns raised by Utah’s intent to use a portion of its Colorado River allotment to provide water to Washington County,” Adams said in a statement.
“We will use the next several months to address their concerns,” he promised.
“More than 20 years of planning have gone into the Lake Powell Pipeline to meet the needs of Washington County’s growing population and to diversify the area’s water supply," Adams said. "Without the project, the county’s economic viability and water security will be harmed.”
The Salt Lake Tribune will update this story.
Click here to read this story by Hillary Davis from Las Vegas Sun
Click here to read this OpEd by Tick Segerblom called "Utah Pipeline Plan An Affront to Nevada"
Click here to read this OpEd by Kyle Roerink called "St. George's Water Grab Worth Fighting"
Click here to read this story by Sam Metz and Felcia Fonseca in The Associated Press