OPINION — Reliable, fact-based studies prove the proposed multibillion dollar Lake Powell Pipeline — one of the most expensive projects in state history — is risky, cost prohibitive and unnecessary. Because pipeline proponents are obsessed with the pipeline being the only workable option to provide future water for Washington County, they refuse to fairly consider feasible alternatives that can be implemented at a fraction of the cost.
As taxpayers statewide and water users in Washington County who’d be required to pay for this massive project, we deserve complete, dependable information and accurate cost data including well-reasoned analysis that demonstrates the need and economic viability of the pipeline.
Instead, since the project’s inception in 2006 and despite spending $35-40 million of taxpayers’ money, studies by the Utah Division of Water Resources and the Washington County Water Conservancy District are biased, incomplete and ignore viable, much less costly alternatives.
Because the LPP fails the test of reason, pipeline proponents rely on misleading arguments, skewed data and fear in an attempt to “sell” the LPP to those of us who are unaware of the facts and place undue trust in government authorities. Politics have replaced logic. Deception has replaced transparency.
There are several formidable obstacles to building the Lake Powell Pipeline which its proponents refuse to acknowledge. A partial list is summarized below:
(1) Utah’s water rights are insecure. Water availability is not guaranteed. (2) Transferring water between basins, necessary with the pipeline, violates Colorado River law and requires approval of the six other basin states and Congress. (3) The six basin states requested Utah halt the federal approval process and negotiate legal and operational concerns or face lengthy and expensive legal action. (4) With a total cost of $4 billion to $6 billion including bond interest, and no federal funding, the pipeline is cost prohibitive. (5) The 140-mile pipeline and associated infrastructure would cause extensive environmental damage.
Alternative methods, including water conservation, developing untapped water sources within Washington County and recycling wastewater obviate the need for the pipeline. At a cost of millions, not billions, these measures would provide sufficient water to serve more than 509,000, Washington County’s 2065 projected population, without the pipeline. These findings are confirmed in several studies including the conclusions of Water Resource Advocates, experts who analyze water issues for several Western states.
Now, because the LPP will not hold up to common-sense and facts, proponents have proposed HB 297 which would promote the pipeline in secret without public scrutiny and create a separate and costly government agency, the Colorado River Authority, to advance the pipeline. The authority would require $9 million of taxpayer money in startup funding and additional funds thereafter.
In flagrant defiance of constituents rights, the authority would not be required to comply with conflict-of-interest provisions nor release communications and documents from their secret meetings. This is an egregious violation of the public’s right to know and would allow self-serving politicians to profit at the public’s expense without being held accountable. HB 297 is outrageous, unethical, deceitful and an arrogant breach of the public trust – and most likely unconstitutional.
HB 297 would promote backroom politics and allow management of our state’s water and large infrastructure projects, including the Lake Powell Pipeline, without accountability. Instead of transparency, it would legitimize secrecy, exclude public participation and keep secret the proposals about how our tax money is spent.
HB 297 is reminiscent of corrupt politics of dictatorships and must be soundly defeated.
Submitted by ANDREW KRAMER, Ivins. Kramer is a Vietnam veteran and retired architect who managed large projects with firms in Boston and Denver.
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.
For a complete list of contacts for Southern Utah representatives and senators, click here.
Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2021 Utah Legislature here.