ST. GEORGE — A licensing proposal for the Lake Powell Pipeline is the public’s last chance to weigh in on whether the pipeline should be built at all or whether other alternatives should be explored to meet future water needs in Southern Utah.
A preliminary licensing proposal for the pipeline was submitted by the Utah Division of Water Resources to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Tuesday, and the document was published on the agency’s website for public review Thursday. The publication opens a 90-day public comment period.
The proposal is the first step in seeking regulatory approval for the controversial pipeline, which would stretch nearly 140 miles and carry up to 86,000 acre-feet of water from Lake Powell to Washington and Kane counties. The pipeline’s cost is estimated at $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion, according to a study by 20 economists from three Utah universities.
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“It’s sort of the last chance for big public input on the whole concept of the pipeline,” Tom Butine, board president of the local natural resources conservation group Citizens for Dixie’s Future, said.
The group will analyze the documents and provide comments.
“This is really our last formal opportunity to raise issues with the whole concept of the pipeline, to raise issue with the financing of it, to raise issues with the viability of Lake Powell and the Colorado River to support the pipeline,” Butine said, “and to weigh in on saying ‘Well, we would rather be better conservers and managers of the water that we have than to go after a distant source that may not be a viable long-term source anyway.’”
The licensing proposal is a draft environmental analysis based on the state’s most recent preliminary reports and information, Josh Palmer, public information officer with the Utah Division of Water Resources, said.
The next step in the approval process for the pipeline is the comment period.
“During that time, things could be changed based on new available information, agency feedback, public feedback,” Palmer said; “and we have a 60-day window after that 90-day public review to make those changes and submit the final license application.”
The final application could be submitted as early as April 2016.
At that point, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could accept the application, deny the application or ask for more information from the state.
If the proposal is accepted, the next step in the process would be an Environmental Impact Statement, which would be conducted by the state following federal guidelines, Palmer said. The EIS could take two years or longer.
Four alternatives are included in the licensing proposal, Palmer said, which include building the pipeline in one of several proposed routes or using the same route as a potential Questar Gas pipeline. The proposal also considers other alternatives for providing water for Washington and Kane counties without using water from Lake Powell.
Approval from 26 different state and federal agencies is required for the pipeline to become a reality, Palmer said. The pipeline’s inline hydroelectric generating stations would produce up to 8.4 megawatts of power, and a pumped storage station, if built, would produce up to 300 megawatts for 10 hours per day, Palmer said.
How to comment
- Search Lake Powell Pipeline documents using docket number P-12966 here
- Go to the comment section here and fill out the form, including your email; you will be emailed a link to submit your comment
- Open the link in the FERC email and use the Lake Powell Pipeline docket number to comment: P-12966
- Write and submit questions, comments and feedback
Comments from organizations, comments over 6,000 characters and comments including photos or graphics can be submitted following these instructions:
- Create an account at FERC Online
- Follow the instructions for FERC’s eFiling System
- Washington County Water Conservancy District pipeline Web page
- 2015 Lake Powell Pipeline Economic Feasibility Analysis
- Lake Powell Pipeline Development Act of 2006
- Utah Rivers Council Lake Powell Pipeline Web page
- Citizens for Dixie’s Future Lake Powell Pipeline Web page
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