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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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