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Contact: Utah Rivers Council at 801-822-7990
Utah Advancing Fantasy Lake Powell Pipeline Despite Lack of Water
Water Agency Meets Thursday to advance Pipeline to Divert Water that Doesn’t Exist & Utah Doesn’t Have a Right to Use
In the face of the lowest Colorado River reservoir levels in history, Utah Governor Spencer Cox’s water agency is moving forward with the controversial Lake Powell Pipeline in a meeting at 10:00 a.m., MDT on Thursday, September 15th. The Pipeline will exacerbate the epic megadrought and impair downstream water users. Utah’s actions fly in the face of the Bureau of Reclamation’s call to cut 2 - 4 million acre-feet of Colorado River water.
“The Lake Powell Pipeline is just one big con game on Utah taxpayers and water users across the Basin,” said Zach Frankel, the Executive Director of the Utah Rivers Council. “Utah should be embarrassed for being so out of touch about climate change and the 100 years of agreements on sharing Colorado River water,” said Frankel.
Utah’s Governor continues to insist there is “surplus” water available for Utah to put in the Lake Powell Pipeline, even though published science demonstrates Utah is overusing its rights to Colorado River water. Lake Powell water levels have dropped so low that boat ramps have been closed and hydropower generation is nearing the end of its useful life. Yet the Utah Board of Water Resources, the official proponent of the Lake Powell Pipeline, will extend a contract with one of the Pipeline contractors. Utah has spent $45 million on permitting for the destructive diversion.
“This bogus extension exemplifies what Lake Powell Pipeline is all about — making money for a select few interests,” said Kyle Roerink, the Executive Director for the Great Basin Water Network. “The motives behind the contract are not in the public interest.”
The Bureau of Reclamation has issued dire warnings on the Colorado River, mandating that the states cut 2–4 million-acre feet of Colorado River water to avoid a catastrophe, most notably a water delivery crisis in the lower basin states.
“With the entire Colorado River Basin in crisis mode, it’s laughable that Utah would even think about moving forward with a new diversion from the river,” said Eric Balken, the Executive Director of the Glen Canyon Institute.
Governor Cox’s water agency, the Utah Board of Water Resources, is the official proponent of the Lake Powell Pipeline. Utah has spent $45 million on permitting for the destructive diversion. While other states in the Colorado River Basin are scrambling to cut their water use, Utah state leaders are misleading the public into believing Utah has a surplus of Colorado River water for the Pipeline.
“In the most critical water year ever, the response from most of the water managers was a state of surrender. Utah, on the other hand, decided to charge into the battlefield of absurdity,” said John Weisheit, the co-founder of Living Rivers and Colorado Riverkeeper.
If completed, the 140-mile Lake Powell Pipeline would divert 86,000 acre-feet of water out of Lake Powell and deliver it to Washington County, Utah. Washington County residents use 306 gallons of water per capita per day, which is over double what residents in Las Vegas use. At a cost to taxpayers of $3 billion, the Pipeline is completely unnecessary since Washington County has enough water to provide for its projected growth without Pipeline water until at least 2060.
The other six states in the Colorado River Basin are widely opposed to the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline because of its impacts on their shrinking water supply. All six other states co-signed a letter to the Secretary of Interior in 2020 noting their opposition to the Pipeline and openly threatening litigation. The Bureau of Reclamation is preparing a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Pipeline now, even while the same federal agency is asking states to cut their water use by 2 -4 million acre-feet of water because of infrastructure problems at Glen Canyon Dam.
Watch the meeting at this link