The Utah Division of Water Resources is proposing one of the largest new diversions of the Colorado River that will sink Utahns in debt, require gigantic increases in water rates and property taxes in Southwest Utah, dry up downstream states and reduce flows of this iconic, hard-working river.
The Lake Powell Pipeline is a massive proposed diversion of the Colorado River to provide municipal water to Washington and Kane Counties in southwest Utah. These municipal water users are among the most wasteful water users in America, using more than twice the national average of water, per-person.
This $2+ billion project would pump 28 billion gallons of water 2,000 feet uphill across 140 miles of desert to provide just 160,000 residents in Southwest Utah with more water—primarily for watering their lawns.
The State of Utah is seeking approval of this massive Pipeline with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The Problem. This huge project would divert Colorado River water immediately upstream of the Grand Canyon, further diminishing flows for a river that no longer reaches the ocean.
The Pipeline is completely unnecessary because an array of less-expensive water sources exist to provide residents with water, who already have an abundance of water. Pipeline proponents have downplayed and ignored these alternatives to make the case for spending billions in taxpayer funds that will benefit their agencies.
The $2-4 billion would be spent on a complicated array of 140 miles of pipelines, pumping stations, reservoirs and generators crossing state, federal and tribal lands. Paying for the costly Pipeline will require huge water rate, impact fee and property tax increases in Washington and Kane Counties. The project is so complex that over the last 10 years the state has spent $33+ million on paperwork and planning, with many expecting this permitting cost to double in coming years.
The Truth. Pipeline proponents claim this costly project is necessary because the area is running out of water, but water data and a groundswell of public opinion prove the $2+ billion project is as unnecessary as it is unpopular.
If Washington County has a surplus, why build a pipeline? Utah is not using its full legal share of Colorado River water and that’s why the Lake Powell Pipeline is being proposed— to keep other states from using “Utah’s water.” Even Utah water leaders concede the project’s ‘true’ purpose is to keep downstream states from using “Utah’s Share” of the Colorado River.
But since diverting water solely to keep others from using it is a poor justification for the $2 billion Lake Powell Pipeline, supporters spread the misleading claim that Washington County and Kane County are running out of water.