Letter to the Editor: Washington County’s only water source is more vulnerable than the Colorado River

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — Various compacts and laws give Colorado River basin states the right to develop and use their proportionate share of the water. Those opposing the Lake Powell Pipeline do not fully understand the importance of the Colorado River as a justifiable source of water for Washington County.

Ivins Mayor Christ Hart speaks about developing water for Washington County’s current and future needs, St. George, Utah, Dec. 5, 2018. Hart is the author of a letter to the editor submitted to St. George News. | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Water Conservation is important and communities like mine along with the Washington County Water Conservancy District continue to advance that cause. However, even under the most draconian conservation conditions, our available water supply simply does not pencil out to be adequate to meet our projected growth.

The Virgin River Basin is the sole water source for Washington County, and it is essentially fully developed so future water supplies for our region must come from elsewhere. The Colorado River was determined to be that source a hundred years ago when the Colorado River Compact became the law governing the river. The state of Utah has prudently held a portion of its share in reserve ever since anticipating the growth that is now occurring.

Those who oppose the LPP cite climate change as a factor limiting the future available supply of Colorado River water and suggest that we should continue to rely on the Virgin River Basin as our only water source. But they fail to acknowledge that the Virgin River as a small desert tributary to the Colorado River is even more vulnerable to climate change than the much larger Colorado. A prolonged regional drought would put Washington County in a water crisis that could be avoided with a redundant water supply from the Colorado River.

The simple fact is that Utah negotiated an allotment of Colorado River water to provide for its future needs and that includes our region of the State. Other states need that water too and oppose Utah fully utilizing their allotment with projects like the Lake Powell Pipeline hoping that additional supplies may become available to them in the future. Undoubtedly any reallocation of Colorado River water would come at the expense of Utah residents including us who are legally entitled to it.

Submitted by CHRIS HART, Ivins City Mayor.

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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