Western Resource Advocates today released the following statement in response to the Utah Board of Water Resources’ (UBWR) announcement that it will withdraw its pending permit application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its proposed Lake Powell Pipeline. UBWR indicated that it will seek permits for the proposed pipeline primarily through the U.S. Department of the Interior.
UBWR’s announcement comes as the state agency is reconsidering its plans for the proposed pipeline. Western Resource Advocates has long argued that electrical energy generation – which is FERC’s area of expertise – is not the main purpose of the proposed water supply pipeline and that an agency with more relevant expertise with the Colorado River, public lands, and Western water supplies should lead the project’s environmental analysis. Furthermore, the pipeline poses a significant risk to Utah taxpayers and the future of the Colorado River. A 2013 WRA study of the pipeline proposal found that southwestern Utah can meet its foreseeable future water needs though smart management of its local water supplies, saving Utah taxpayers millions of dollars.
“The state should take this project redesign as an opportunity to reconsider its options and pursue a more sustainable path that ensures Washington County residents have a secure water supply and saves Utah taxpayers’ money,” said Rob Harris, senior staff attorney with WRA’s Healthy Rivers Program. “By taking reasonable, moderate conservation measures common in other Southwestern communities, Washington County residents will be able to thrive with affordable, clean water – at considerably less cost.”