Utah Records Committee Orders Mike Noel's Agency to Provide Lake Powell Pipeline Records to Public
Will Mike Noel’s lands receive water from the $3 Billion Lake Powell Pipeline, and if so, how was that decision made?
The Utah State Records Committee ordered Rep. Mike Noel’s water agency, the Kane County Water District, to provide all correspondences from himself, his staff and his board to the Utah agency which decided to deliver Lake Powell Pipeline water to the lands adjacent to Mr. Noel’s properties.
The Utah Rivers Council submitted a GRAMA request to the Kane County Water District after filing a 38 page complaint requesting an investigation by the U.S. Attorney and the Utah Attorney General to determine how the alignment of Lake Powell Pipeline water was decided in Kane County. The Water District refused to provide the records and asked for nearly $8,000 in fees, claiming the correspondences lived on Mr. Noel’s personal computer.
At issue is how and why the $3 billion Pipeline would deliver as much water as a city of 20,000 people use in a year to a rural area of Kane County with a population of just 270 people. This has generated controversy because it is also the area where Mr. Noel’s owns $4-8 million in land holdings, and is adjacent to the end of the Pipeline.
The Water District claimed that Mr. Noel is a contract employee who uses his personal computer and the records were mixed in with Mr. Noel’s personal files and would be costly to separate. The District also claimed the agency was not responsible for retaining official emails.
Several members of the Records Committee appeared surprised at this claim, and one member of the Committee refuted the District’s claim by saying “you can’t charge a petitioner for their [the District’s] poor record keeping.”
State documents for the Pipeline indicated clearly that there was no need for Pipeline water in Kane County, because of the abundance of existing water sources there already. The documents also noted the expensive nature of Lake Powell Pipeline water. According to the Utah Division of Water Resources in 2008 and 2011:
“Thus based strictly on water need, LPP supplies are not needed in the KCWCD service area within the 2060 planning horizon.”
But then in 2016, the Division of Water Resources inexplicably released new documents deciding to deliver LPP water to a rural portion of Kane County with a tiny population. This delivery area is shown in the map below. The Utah Rivers Council GRAMA request seeks to understand why this change occurred and what role Mr. Noel played in it.
An estimate from University of Utah economists found that Kane County taxpayers will be burdened with some $150 million in debt by Pipeline construction and interest, which will require major increases to water rates, property taxes and impact fees. The study found that water rates will have to increase by 538%, property taxes will have to increase by 61% and impact fees will have to increase by 344% and the proposed Green River nuclear power plant must be licensed and constructed to repay Utah taxpayers for the Pipeline costs in Kane County.
The URC has launched a petition asking the Attorney General to investigate Mr. Noel and the Lake Powell Pipeline. Please sign the petition to demonstrate your support for holding public officials accountable for their actions.