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