Letter to the Editor: Lake Powell Pipeline a ‘Good Ol’ Boy’ scam, a ‘pipe dream’

OPINION – I’ve been following the Lake Powell Pipeline activity for over a decade now and have noticed a lot of inconsistencies over the years.  They have led to the following conclusion:

We the people of Washington County are being scammed by the “Good Ol’ Boys” to pay for this “pipe dream.”  They wish to continue to sell their land – which needs the water resources to sell at a tremendous profit.

To back up the above claim, I offer the following evidence:  (…And for those who don’t know who the “Good Ol’ Boys” (or GOB’s) are – they are the major landowners, developers and real estate people who have a lot of “skin in the land-sale game.”  This includes the county commissioners, one and all.

1.  Over half of the Washington County Water Conservancy District (WCWCD) trustees are tied to major land ownership, housing development, etc.  (Ever hear of “conflict of interest??”)

2.  The county commissioners hired a lawyer to head the Water Conservancy District rather than someone educated in water resources. This proved advantageous due to his ability to parse his words (like all good lawyers) to evade the truth and facts, and make his point with selective omissions of the actual facts. An example? His veiled truths about the cost of water before and after the pipeline–without considering the financing costs in his examples. With these costs included, the actual cost is four times the current (his reported) cost.

3.  The scare tactics used in the WCWCD articles – saying roads would crumble, house foundations would crack, and we would be left with a dust bowl … all if the pipeline wasn’t built!  (Sounds like socialist/communist propaganda.  Obama would be proud!  Think ObamaCare!)

4.  Paying copious amounts of pipeline money to hire a professional water system cost estimator from Washington State – Dr. Darryl Olsen – produced an excellent 113-page objective report in 2010 that was never publicized because he told the truth about cost-effectiveness and cost in 2010 dollars for two proposals; first, hydro storage — with a Hurricane storage reservoir @ $2.6 – $3.2 Billion; and second, non-hydro storage @ $1.8 – $2.3 Billion – NOT including financing! Hiring, then, a second water systems estimator from Las Vegas – Jeremy Aguero – whose recommendations echoed the GOB’s ideas of water needs – exactly. Aguero’s biased reports directly oppose those of Dr. Olsen. In my mind, Aguero was paid to fortify input from the GOB’s and WCWCD. Aguero said he received 1,500 pages of reports from the WCWCD. When I questioned Aguero directly, he said the 113-page report from Dr. Olsen was not included! Strange, huh?

5. On June 8, 2008, I submitted an editorial to The Spectrum outlining my estimate of the cost of the pipeline – which I estimated at $3.0 Billion in 2015 dollars – and this was verified by Dr. Olsen’s estimate. Printing of my article forced the WCWCD to re-evaluate the $585 Million cost (2005 estimate) to $1.1 Billion in 2008 dollars (my estimate for 2008 was $1.6 Billion). Since 2008, the $1.1 Billion has remained the same, when the smallest increase (from 2003 – 2005) was 8 percent per year. I know Cedar City/Iron County has wisely dropped out of the Tri-County agreement. And now, with the WCWCD estimating a $950 Million price tag due to Iron County’s withdraw … Where are the cost inflation increases since 2008? Plus, the pipeline new-start construction date has slipped from 2015 to 2020, and completion date from 2020 to 2030. Think about inflation!

6.  State Representative Mike Noel of Kane County (who is also executive director of the Kane County Water Conservancy District) presented heated support for the need for water and the Lake Powell Pipeline at the recent Governor’s town meeting on July 25th. But the truth is that the 4,000 residents of Kane County use over 400 gallons per person daily, just for culinary purposes — and the 10 percent water share from the pipeline will be sold by Kane County to a nuclear power plant for cooling – at a very handy profit for Kane County. His county’s water is not for growth, but for profit!

7.  At that same Governor’s Water Conservation Conference in St. George, about 40 people spoke at what was billed as a “conservation conference,” but in reality was a forum “for and against” the pipeline. Speakers were local mayors, county commissioners, WCWCD employees, city water employees, including Mike Noel from Kane County (all for the pipeline) and concerned citizens (mostly against the pipeline) – split almost evenly.

Initially I was going to speak on “gray water recovery” (used in homes in at least two dozen “less dry” states, but not in Utah — the second driest state) – but after the St. George mayor and fellow GOB cronies positioned the meeting as referendum on the pipeline, I presented the information on cost from my June 8, 2008 article in The SpectrumI basically said that the $3.0 Billion cost when financed with 4 percent state bonds for 54 years (the original proposition – to be paid back with impact fees from new homes) will add $7.0 Billion to the cost for financing – for a total cost of $10 Billion.

That’s $185,185,185 principle and interest per year for 54 years.   That’s over $185 Million per year!  If 1,000 new homes are permitted for construction per year – that’s an $185,000 impact fee per home.  I doubt any affordable homes will be built. And if no new homes are built to pay back the state bonds, who pays the state? You and I through water rate increases – $1,233 per person per year, assuming a population of 150,000. Needless to say, taxes and/or water rates will increase – dramatically.

The inequalities here are many, but the greatest is that when the Central Utah Project (Colorado River water to northern Utah) was built (initial estimate $185 Million / Lake Powell Pipeline initial 1995 estimate = $195 Million), the state as a whole paid $450 Million and the Fed is paying the balance of the $3.0 Billion plus cost – not finished yet! This cost of $3.0 Billion had no financing cost.  Conversely, the Lake Powell Pipeline does. The $450 million state portion was paid by ALL Utah taxpayers. Conversely, the Lake Powell Pipeline will be paid for just by Washington County residents.

At the recent Governor’s Water Conservation town meeting in St. George, I, along with two fellow opponents of the pipeline, conferred with two representatives from the banking and accounting industries. The representatives informed us the state just received $250 Million in bonding @ 3.2 percent for I-15 roadwork – with 20 years to pay back.  These representatives assumed we would get the same deal for the pipeline.  But a roadway is a guaranteed fixed and permanent structure — something you can count on.  Sufficient water in the Colorado River is not.  Utah will not get the 3.2 percent bonding rate for the $10 Billion.

The Colorado River Compact (CRC) written in the early 1900’s splits 15 million + acre feet (flow numbers in the early 1900’s) between the Upper Basin (which includes Utah) and the Lower Basin.  An additional 1.5 million acre feet is allotted to Mexico and 975,000 acre feet for Native American tribes.  Also written in the CRC was that if over a 10 year period the average flow in the Colorado River falls below 7.5 million acre feet, the Upper Basin loses its rights to water (currently 400,000 acre feet for Utah) in deference to the Lower Basin states.

The flow is currently approaching 9.0 million acre feet and declining yearly, with estimates of 8.0 million acre feet in 2020 or sooner.

My conclusion?  “If we build it, it won’t flow!” $10 Billion wasted – and we of Washington County will still have to pay for it!

A more logical solution would be conservation and limiting growth. (Hear that uproar? The GOB’s are up in arms!)

As per the mayor and the WCWCD — Washington County has/will have 85,000 acre feet of replaceable water supplies.  At our current wasteful rate of use of 255 gallons per person per day –that’s enough for approximately 350,000 people.   With conservation (25 percent), then, we’re good for over 400,000 people which equates perfectly with Vision Dixie’s goal of 385,000 people for grow out of Washington County.

The state had Washington County population projections at 850,000 people (which would require two pipelines!), but readjusted the estimate downward to 585,000.  Why do we let Salt Lake City dictate what our population will be?  Perhaps they want to spread the congestion and pollution so common up north!

Personally, I’m tired of the “Salt Lake rooster” crowing and the “St. George rooster” just nodding its head.  Let’s put on our big boy pants and take charge of our future as we, the people, see fit.

The question you need to ask yourself is: Who will really benefit from the Lake Powell Pipeline?  The GOB’s get us to pay for a water supply so they can sell their land to many, many more people.  We get the bill for the pipeline and the increased crime, pollution, congestion, etc. that unchecked population growth brings.

Think about it.

We need a vote to defeat the Lake Powell Pipeline.

Submitted by Robert M. Amoroso

Email amorosorma@aol.com

 

Ed. note: Letters to the Editor are presented as received without edit. The opinions stated are those of the writer and not representative of St. George News.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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18 Comments

  • St. Georgian. NOT Dixieite August 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    God, I love you, STGNews. Thanks for informing the blind sheep time and time again! About time we have an unbiased news source in the area.

  • Julie Applegate August 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Thank you, excellent letter. The pipeline idea never made any sense to me. I’m a long-time resident and I do not think growth for growth’s sake makes any sense.

  • Tyler August 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    No wonder the State of Utah are not willing to throw any money at and laughing at this pipeline. They aren’t as stupid as these southern Utah cattle think they are.

  • Ron August 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Here is a local issue that could unite Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and whoever. So why the gratuitous slap at Obama (point #3 above)? He has nothing to do with the pipeline. Why make some of us a little less eager to want to work with you? Opinions on national issues don’t have to divide us at the local level . . . unless you choose to inject them into every debate that comes up regardless of their relevance.

  • Karen August 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    This letter is excellent with fact-filled information about the monstrosity of the Lake Powell Pipeline. I, too, have been following the “information” presented by the GOB’s about the “need” for the Pipeline for many years. I have even saved all of the newsletters that have been published to help “sell” it to the public. They are full of contradictions and phony facts.
    Kudos to the StgNews for publishing this letter. And, kudos to Iron County for realizing the folly of this enterprise. Now we need Washington County residents to wake up and see that we can’t afford and don’t need the Pipeline.

  • William August 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    There was once a City by the Sea and the city was full of CityFolk who said “Oh we hate it here. It is not at all like the great City by the Desert, where the people are so friendly and warm and so pleasant to be around”

    So the CityFolk move from the City by the Sea to the City by the Desert. But then the CityFolk started noticing that things were not to their liking. And cries of “the town is being run by the Good Old Boys Club, and these hicks or Dixie-ite, are too backward and racist in their thinking to be in power”

    So the CityFolk whine, and cried, and wrote about how things should be in the newspaper and campaigned to bring ENLIGHTENMENT to the City by the Desert. They got together and make up the Washington Coalition. They scoff that those who said “It you don’t like it leave”

    After a time the CityFolk with help of others of their kind, got their way and made the changes, that brought the ENLIGHTENMENT to the City by the Dessert.

    Then CityFolk put a For Sale sign in front of their house. When ask why they were leaving after getting ALL that they wanted. They cried “Oh we hate it here it now like the City by the Sea. It not like at all like the great City by the Forest where people are so friendly and warm and so pleasant to be with”

    • Karen August 2, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      You’ve told this story before. Are you trying to imply that only the transplants are against the Pipeline? If so, you are wrong. There are plenty of St. George natives who are opposed to this folly. Sure, the “pioneers did hard things” but they also did smart things and building this unneeded Pipeline is not a smart thing.

    • Leighla August 3, 2013 at 8:09 am

      We went through the same song and dance for the $500 million dollar airport and $500 million dollar overpass that leads to it that everyone drives past on their way to the Vegas airport. Holy righteous pork barrel spending is to be bowed down to by all or we’re asked to leave even if we were born here.

    • Chris August 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      William’s comment is nonsense as usual. The fact is that the local “Good Old Boys Club” are the ones who are trying to change the “city by the desert” into the “city by the sea.” The transplants, as well as many natives, are those trying to keep it as it currently exists.

  • Dick Cherry August 2, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Robert has it right! The city wants us to conserve water, but not to protect the resorces but so they can sub-divide and get the all mighty tax dollars for the city coffers. The “Pipe Dream needs squashed now. We have a huge Aquifer west of the beaver dam Mt’s that could be tapped?? Oh! that probably wouldn’t cost enough??? DC

  • GC A PJ2 August 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Seems to me that STGnews is backing this editorial in that it has a lot of the keyword statements edited and highlighted in the margins of the letter. When all these dollar amounts and statistics are thrown out buy the writer, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know if his numbers are correct or just more smoke and mirrors. Seems to me that those on both sides who are this passionate about their personal interests would be willing to stack the numbers to favor their side of the debate.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic August 2, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      No, GC A PJ2, we publish letters to the editor “as is” – typos and all, actually.
      I’m glad you gave me a chance to go over that again – it is important.
      We only alter things that do not translate in AP – for example, the author’s italicized words were converted to underline or bold, use of the percent symbol is converted to a word. That’s it.
      We allow for and encourage opinion, and response to opinion as you’re offering here. That too, we believe is important.
      You’ll see this reiterated at the bottom of the story also.
      As for margins, I’m not sure what you mean – there are no margins, unless you’re referring to the recent comments? Those always run down the top right side of our pages, they are automatically generated and do reflect the most recent comments made and the story they were posted to.
      Again, thank you for asking – we appreciate it.
      ST. GEORGE NEWS | STGnews.com
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

  • Todd Graves August 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    St. George has been governed like this for a long time. My history in this town only goes back to the 70’s, but the politics still smell the same. Our elected/ordained leaders will consistently do what serves them and their friends. I believe that the pipeline is a waste of taxpayers dollars, but I can’t make a completely informed decision because of the decision of the divine ones, to obfuscate, rather than illuminate.

    It seems that every year there are candidates that come along, challenging the status quo, but it seems to stay the same. A one party system makes everyone feel powerless, when it comes right down to it, but this seems like an issue that is bigger than a Republican or Democrat problem. I don’t know what the answer is, but we should fix it.

    I am looking forward to the Pipeline theme song that I’m sure is coming our way. It will make that monorail, I mean pipeline, seem a lot more practical and “right” for St. George.

  • Sgnative August 2, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    I agree with Karen.

  • Kay August 3, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Maybe it’s time we start speaking up and attending St. George City Council meetings. Things sure did happen fast this past week when it was discovered the animal shelter has been negligent in their duties.
    We have more of a voice than we think and I applaud St. George News for sharing editorials such as this. I have not been following the Lake Powell Pipe Line because I couldn’t believe anyone with half a brain would give it a second thought. Conservation works, just look at our neighbors south of us in Nevada.
    We don’t need another Bangerter Boondoggle.

  • Lisa August 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I’ve dealt with the pipeline issue and Bob Amoroso for years. He’s one for digging in to get the facts and has a head for numbers. Given the fact that the numbers provided by the state and water district seem to change depending on their tactics and goal, we try to get as good an understanding of what this project will cost as we can. I think Bob’s done as good a job as possible. People need to get involved with this and stay informed. This will affect residents one way or the other. The water district will be providing The Local Waters Alternative to the Lake Powell Pipeline at their 8/15 CIRPAC meeting (4-6pm) – open to the public. It’s an option people need to hear about and understand.

  • Bob Amoroso August 9, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    I thank the readers for their coments (mostly good and supportive) Just today I was made aware of the 8/8/13 issue of the Las Vegas Review -Journal which specified/supported my river flow numbers although at a much worse rate of decline. The article referenced Las Vegas, but spefically, the total river flow into Lake Powell is now at the first time going to be below the 7.5 million acre foot limit I mentioned in the article.

  • Chris August 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    It is interesting that the local politicians who support the pipeline would be the first to say they dislike big government and its intrusion into our lives, Yet, here they are advocating a massive government project that has very sketchy justification and that will saddle all of us here with a large debt. I defy anyone to name a single similarly sized project like the pipeline that been completed anywhere close to its initial cost estimates. If there is truly good economic sense in completing the pipeline, why can’t we leave it to the private sector? Let’s hear some of these anti-government advocates answer that question.

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