Controversial Lake Powell Pipeline cost, repayment plan, faces public scrutiny

Composite stock image featuring Lake Powell, Utah | St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Conserve Southwest Utah and the Utah Rivers Council are teaming up to hold a discussion Thursday on the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline including the cost, the financing plan, the repayment plan and its impact on the Southern Utah community. 

“Since the water district has refused to engage in a discussion about these issues, we’ve decided to take the discussion to the public without them,” Tom Butine, board president of Conserve Southwest Utah, said in a statement.

The event is scheduled for Thursday from 6-7:30 p.m. in Conference Room A of the St. George Library, 88 W. 100 South, St. George. All are invited.

Organizers of the event state it is part of an ongoing series of community discussions on the key issues with the Lake Powell pipeline concept including financing, alternatives, viability, risks and need.

The discussion will include a review of a legislative audit released in May 2015. That audit shows how water suppliers who are in favor of costly water development projects like the Lake Powell Pipeline are routinely ignoring a surplus water supply, according to critics of the pipeline project. 

Organizers say the public discussion will shed light on the plans and proposals given by proponents of the Lake Powell Pipeline and reveal the heart of the issue.

The water district’s repayment plan doesn’t repay Utah taxpayers for the $2 billion costs of the project and raises major questions about the district’s actions, Utah Rivers Council executive director Zach Frankel said.

“Are the water districts intentionally deceiving Utah taxpayers or are they so incompetent as to not understand what they are doing?” Frankel said. Water district officials maintain that documents released under a Government Records and Access Management Act request were not a repayment plan but rather preliminary financing scenarios that are not secret and have been discussed at public meetings.

Read more: Water district releases contested pipeline documents, refutes label of ‘repayment plan’

The Utah Rivers Council is “confusing a preliminary, interactive exercise with a repayment plan,” Washington County Water Conservancy District spokesperson Karry Rathje said in an earlier interview.


The controversial proposed pipeline would stretch nearly 140 miles and carry up to 86,000 acre-feet of water from Lake Powell to Washington and Kane counties, water which proponents say is needed to support future population growth in Southern Utah. Opponents say the pipeline is not needed and water conservation and other factors could supply all the water that is needed.

In November 2015, a study endorsed by 20 economists from three major Utah universities predicted the controversial pipeline would incur debt as high as $781 each year for every resident of Washington County. Paying for the pipeline would require extreme increases in water prices, impact fees or both, the study’s authors stated.

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

However, water district officials refute the economists’ study and say the project would only cause slight increases in residents’ water bills.

The official license application for the controversial Lake Powell Pipeline was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in early May.

Read more: Lake Powell Pipeline license application filed; opposition groups speak up

Event details

  • What: Public discussion of the financial aspects of the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline.
  • When: Thursday, Oct. 13, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Conference Room A, St. George Library, 88 W. 100 South in St George.

For more information, contact Utah Rivers Council outreach director Darin Mann at 801-486-4776 or by email; or Conserve Southwest Utah board president Tom Butine at 425-893-9781 or by email.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.


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  • .... October 11, 2016 at 9:19 am

    This is a great project and I’m glad to see it move ahead. looking forward to see this project completed .thank you to all those making this possible. Praise the Lord !

    • Brian October 11, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Tell the truth: Are you an alien? Or a Russian hacker trying to mess with Americans for the fun of it?

      • .... October 12, 2016 at 6:06 am

        Yeah this is going to be fantastic when it’s all done comrade

      • .... October 12, 2016 at 5:53 pm

        Hey Brian the Russians are the ones funding Trump ! LOL and the aliens are running the white house. ..I bet you could come up with quite an article on that eh comrade ?

  • Not_So_Much October 11, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Makes no sense. This boondoggle must be stopped.

    • .... October 12, 2016 at 6:03 am

      Actually I think it would make a heck of a water slide

  • KarenS October 11, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    I still would like to see the Lake Powell Pipeline proponents respond to the 20 economists who found that water rates would increase dramatically in Washington and Kane Counties. So far, all the proponents have said is “trust us”. No, I don’t trust you. Show me the facts and figures. I have attended several so-called public informational meetings. None have explained the need for the Pipeline.

  • .... October 12, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Hey Brian when it’s all done you can use the water also. have a nice day

  • Ron October 12, 2016 at 9:29 am

    KarenS, I too would like to hear what the WCWCD has to say about the estimated increased water costs to residents of Washington county.
    I know that the residents will not hear from the WCWCD officials on this important issue. The cost to pay for their “pipe” dream, will be passed on the residents in the form of high user fees. WCWCD Director Ron Thompson does NOT want residents to know this. If they had wanted the residents to know, they would have told us by now. However, they know that if they had told us, the project would NEVER get off the ground.
    The truth is, WCWCD IS NOT going to make this information available to the public till it is too late to stop it. They are banking on the fed approval to come in without fanfare so as to not arouse the public rancor that it will certainly raise. The WCWCD lacks in the “transparency” dept of their little scheme. The residents will not get the correct information they deserve. And in the end, it will be the residents who will pay the high water fees that the WCWCD will impose. It will be the “only game in town” so you will not have a choice but to pay the fees….and they know this! It is all by design. As I have said many times before” NEW LEADERSHIP AT WCWCD IS NEEDED. Ron Thompson needs to resign as well as all of his cronies in the “Taj Mahal” on the hill.


  • .... October 12, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    Brian thinks the Russians are behind the whole thing LOL ! Yeah that Putin guy gets around eh Brian ? Ha ha ha ha

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