State finance board to discuss Lake Powell Pipeline; public comments accepted

Boat ramp at Wahweap Marina, Lake Powell, Ariz., August 2017 | File hoto courtesy of Lin Floyd, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A state-appointed board tasked with analyzing the funding and financing needs of major water infrastructure projects is returning to St. George this month to continue analyzing issues related to the Lake Powell Pipeline.

The Executive Water Finance Board will meet at the Gardner Student Center on the Dixie State University campus Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A map shows the proposed route of the Lake Powell Pipeline though Southern Utah and Northern Arizona | Map courtesy of Washington County Water Conservancy District, St. George News

Among other issues, the water finance board is looking into state financing of the pipeline project, as well as its potential fiscal and economic implications.

The public will have an opportunity to comment at various points throughout the meeting.

The board visited St. George in March and held an evening’s worth of public comment related to potential financial impacts the pipeline could have on the local community.

Read more: Fiscal impacts of Lake Powell Pipeline considered by state board as it hears public concern

Water planners anticipate the 140-mile long Lake Powell Pipeline may run between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion.

Opponents have argued the pipeline will cost closer to $3 billion or more with potentially sky-high interest rates attached.

Funding for the project could involve state and federal loans, as well as increased costs to county water users and new development.

Pipeline detractors have warned that the cost of the project will negatively impact the community growth that water planners say will help pay for it in the long run.

Members of the Executive Water Finance Board of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget listen to public comments on the Lake Powell Pipeline, St. George, Utah, March 22, 2018 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Read more: Study predicts Lake Powell Pipeline will trigger massive water rate, impact fee increases

The Lake Powell Pipeline is projected to bring over 86,000 acre-feet, or 77 million gallons of water daily, to 13 communities in Kane and Washington counties. Water will be moved from Lake Powell to Sand Hollow reservoir through six pump stations and six hydropower stations.

The pipeline is seen as a necessary to meet the water demands of a county that is projected to reach a population of over 500,000 by 2060.

Washington County’s primary source of water is the Virgin River. Having the pipeline would diversify the county’s water resources, according to local and state water planners and civic leaders.

Read more: Negotiations begin for ‘water exchange’ key to the Lake Powell Pipeline

Currently, a previously approved application to get the project rolling is on hold due to a question of jurisdiction among federal agencies. State and county water planners asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to pause the process earlier this year so the question could be resolved.

Due to a lack of movement on the issue, Utah water officials last month asked the commission to move forward on the project.

Read more: Despite question of jurisdiction, Utah asks federal agency to resume Lake Powell Pipeline permitting process

Planners say the pipeline could start construction in the early 2020s.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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8 Comments

  • beacon September 6, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    Citizens should attend this meeting and speak out during the public comment periods shown on the agenda. Public comments from the March board meeting reveal that 60% of those who commented spoke against the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline. 40% made positive comments; 2 of those were elected leaders and 1 spoke for the Southern Utah Home Builders Association, a group that stands to benefit by building many homes to use all that water. While all citizens will have to pay for this pipeline, only a select few will really benefit. And, with the condition of the Colorado River, that benefit is even at risk.

    • AstroBoy September 6, 2018 at 7:05 pm

      I want to but I work during those hours.

  • AstroBoy September 6, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    With a current population of 165,662 and a cost of $3b that’s more than $18k per person. Now I’m aware that we have rights to this water that California is using and am for sticking it to the Californians as much as the next guy but this seems to be an exceedingly expensive way to flip them off. How about we devise methods to get California to pay us not to put in a pipeline and use that money to bolster water reclamation efforts, no real reason why we can’t be drinking yesterdays sewer water if it’s been properly filtered. We live in a desert but most of the yards I see have turf lush enough to make the Scottish lowlanders jealous.

    • jaltair September 7, 2018 at 12:30 am

      We wouldn’t be sticking it to CA, NV, AZ, or any other state utilizing the Colorado River. UT is allotted a certain amount, the rest goes downstream for Las Vegas, then on to AZ, CA, and Mexico. The problem is the numbers allotted aren’t real numbers. I agree that sewer plants could recycle water for non-potable use with the green. I also think all new building should have desert landscaping and the use of water here is already costly, that should push people into watching water use. What about desert landscaping for golf.

  • Red2Blue310 September 6, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    California is too smart to get ripped by a bunch of Utards. Get ready for multi state lawsuits. Nevada uses that water too.

  • utahdiablo September 6, 2018 at 9:35 pm

    You can all show up and shout all you want to oppose the LPP, but the fix is in as to Ronnie and the Waterlords….the only answer is limited building permits, only so many per year, like Boulder Nevada, ever been there? They have a limited amount of housing permits per year….now go back and get ready to be screwed big time on your annual property tax bill in regards to the water, along with your monthly water bill….fun times coming to you and yours….oh and did you also remember that you can no longer write off your Children on your Federal and Utah income taxes for 2018 onward? ..No?..Oh Baby!!

  • jaltair September 7, 2018 at 12:35 am

    What is the purpose of the pipeline? To increase density in the area so money can be made? I can say, the purpose of the pipeline is to be able to line the pockets of all the whores who stand to make money on the growth.

    What does increased density bring? It will bring more crime, more drugs, and a lower standard of living. If people want more diversity, they can move to areas that are already crumbling from the density and diversity. Don’t bring it to Utah!

    It’s appalling to me that people still demand parks and golf courses or even lawns. We are a desert, people wake up, please.

    In the end, St George will die as the area runs out of water even with a pipeline as the change in climate continues. The common thought today is the monsoon season will grow and go north and the snow levels will come down as the weather warms. Do the people studying the idea of the pipeline even realize the impact on the Colorado River if that were to really happen? No snow, no water.

    “NO” on the pipeline, it will not improve quality of life for the residents living in St George. Write a letter to everyone you can think of in all government to protest this water pipeline and go to the meeting . . . I’ll be there if my body is up to 6 hours.

    Is there anyone contact person who works in organizing protests in this area, I’m not aware of anyone.

  • Jeff September 15, 2018 at 11:38 am

    One thing people aren’t thinking about is currently it’s hard to build a new home for under the $400,000 price point more like upper $400,000 to 500,000 plus so do we really want to be subsidizing well off retirees!! The average working family is already priced out of this market and when the pipeline is complete with another 10 years of the impact fee going up $1,000 per year the prices will be $500k plus! We are reaching our limit now check the traffic! Other states like Arizona, Texas have growth and affordable housing not here!!!

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