The 140-mile-long Lake Powell Pipeline would pump 86,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water each year to Utah’s Washington County. Not only would the project be enormously expensive, it poses an unnecessary risk to native communities and public lands along the proposed pipeline route, and the health of the entire Colorado River.
Western Resource Advocates has a long history of advocating along with several other partners for smarter alternatives. WRA’s analysis has shown that Utah can choose a more sustainable path AND save its taxpayers money. Local water supply solutions, such as water conservation, water reuse, and agricultural water transfers, offer the best opportunity to ensure a sustainable water supply for Utah’s Washington County.
In fact, in 2019, the Army Corps of Engineers told the state of Utah that it should consider WRA’s Local Waters Alternative. But the state has continued to seek a permit for the pipeline. Facing dim prospects for a permit with one federal agency (FERC), it re-started its application with another (the Bureau of Reclamation).
Then, in June 2020, the Bureau of Reclamation released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that failed to take sustainable local alternatives into account.
Rather than exploring a suite of options to meet local water needs, the draft EIS only considered alternative routes for the pipeline – all of which would have significant environmental and cultural impacts. The proposed routes would pass through lands that are culturally significant or sacred to the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, potentially disturbing or impeding access to these areas. Each of these impacts deserves close scrutiny.
After receiving extensive public comment, the Bureau of Reclamation delayed the release of the final EIS. But we still need to make sure this proposal isn’t pushed through. And we need to ensure any proposed alternative protects the health of the Colorado River and local communities.
Federal law requires Congress to approve pipelines that would pump water from the Upper Colorado River Basin to the Lower Colorado River Basin. We’ve drafted a letter to let lawmakers know that they must fulfill their important oversight role and consider local sustainable alternatives to the pipeline.
This letter is regarding the Lake Powell Pipeline proposal, currently being considered by the Bureau of Reclamation.
As the proposed pipeline project would entail a transfer of water from the Upper Colorado River Basin to the Lower Colorado River Basin, federal law requires congressional approval. I urge you to help ensure that this important oversight happens.
Not only would the project be enormously expensive, it poses an unnecessary risk to native communities along the proposed pipeline route, our public lands, and the health of the entire Colorado River.
Currently, the proposed routes for the Lake Powell Pipeline would pass through lands that are culturally significant or sacred to the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, potentially disturbing or impeding access to these areas.
Further, the Colorado River is an overstressed and shared resource, and given the predictions that the river will continue to be over-allocated and stressed by increasingly dry conditions, we can’t afford unnecessary water diversions that increase the risk of shortage to millions of other water users.
Analysis has shown that Utah can ensure the community has the water it needs and save its taxpayers’ money without posing an unnecessary risk to communities, our public lands and the health of the Colorado River through water conservation, water reuse, and agricultural water transfers. These local water supply solutions offer the best opportunity to ensure a sustainable water supply for Utah’s Washington County.
The federal government must consider these alternatives in the decision on the project’s approval.