Letter to the Editor: Lake Powell Pipeline pros and cons may be moot if there’s no water source for it

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — A recent article came out in the St. George News painting a picture of the Lake Powell Pipeline. The article covered two points of view, those who think we need the water for growth, and those who think we can conserve enough, and don’t actually need the water. A major factor was missed by the article entirely. What if there isn’t actually enough water in the Colorado River System to guarantee that the Lake Powell Pipeline will even have enough water?


Read more: Southern Utah without Lake Powell Pipeline: Dried-up communities or booming like usual?


As we’re full in the swing of the 19th year of drought in the Colorado River Basin, the State of Utah should take a good hard look at what’s going on with our largest river system and scrap this idea before we’ve wasted over a billion hard earned dollars.

The Colorado River System is approaching crisis. We are in a new era of increasing dryness. You can feel it, you can see it, you can measure it, there are fires around the west. It is due to increasing global temperatures, it might vary from year to year, but drought is predicted to persist.

The levels of Lake Mead and Lake Powell are low, so low, that we barely have a year in reserve for the 35 million people already relying on that water. This is forcing the Bureau of Reclamation to instigate new negotiations on Drought Contingency Plans in the Colorado River Basin. Farmers are taking cuts all over the Western Slope.

This is a problem, because while other states are scrambling to lower their water use, the State of Utah is busy trying to develop literally every last drop of our allocation (based on river flows that we’ll likely rarely see again).

The Northern Ute and Navajo have large amounts of federally reserved water rights (that have yet to be agreed upon or developed) dating back to the creation of the reservations and thus much stronger rights to the water than most users. The negotiation is slow when working with sovereign tribal nations, especially because the U.S. and Utah have broken their trust countless times, but that does not mean we should rush ahead as a state and develop all the water before these negotiations are finished.

At the very least, we should wait and ensure that the original inhabitants of this state, many of whom haul water and have no public water systems, have access to sufficient water before unnecessarily dumping it on developers in St. George.

The water right for the Lake Powell Pipeline has a junior priority date to all the other major water developments that the State of Utah is simultaneously pursuing, but senior rights to about 10,000 other water rights already held by families, businesses, and entire communities relying on the water to live in Eastern Utah. As shortages come, and they will come, those junior rights will get axed.

The state of Utah should make the call now, extinguish the water right for the Lake Powell Pipeline, it shouldn’t even really exist given this past decade’s river flows, and support the Utahns that already rely on the same water for survival. I’m speaking of water rights in Hanksville, Emery, Green River, Moab, Blanding, Escalante, Roosevelt, Castle Valley, and many many more.

The federal government isn’t going to come in and tell Utah what to do; it’s up to us to manage the resources that we have with justice and foresight. But as the water diminishes in the river we share, we will be making cuts, along with all the other western water users, like it or not.

Submitted by SARAH STOCK, Moab, Utah.

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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11 Comments

  • #resist July 13, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    This is so true

  • snowflake1 July 13, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Shhhhhh! Shush! My gosh it’s not a billion wasted if you’re the one earning it. And as much water as everyone wastes it will get back to the colorado river. So yeah will flush it back down the virgin for you okay. Just let us sell land and start construction.

  • Real Life July 13, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    Very well written.

  • ccccccccccccccccccccccccc July 13, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    People like this are naive. I’ve read enough of these LPP crybaby letters just like this to know. Ron Thompson’s big long pipe is gettin’ built even if it has to be built to a bone dry lake bed full of nothing but sand. This is King Ronnie’s legacy project and the people that are a lot more important than us little peasants have already decided that we’re all getting Ron’s big pipe. The decision has been made. All of the voters in this county are too stupid to decide things like this for ourselves, just ask the local mormon, developer-owned politicians who rule the roost around here. You can scream and fight and cry and protest and sulk and stomp your little feet all you like, but the more you fight it the more it’s gonna hurt in the end, because you people are getting Ron’s big long pipe whether you like it or not. Who knows, maybe our dear doofus mayor Pike will set up a little LPP booth at the county fair and pass out little bottles of vaseline. Silly, naive people. It’s gettin’ built. Just wait till we all get the bill for it. hahahaha 😉

    • comments July 13, 2018 at 4:56 pm

      oh, that was mine. “comments” lol

    • #resist July 13, 2018 at 5:57 pm

      Loser comments. Excited for school to start? That way you can indoctrinate all those Tuacahn high school students with your bigot views.

      • Real Life July 13, 2018 at 6:25 pm

        He is right on this one.

        • #resist July 13, 2018 at 6:35 pm

          Agreed, but he still sucks

  • Walter1 July 13, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Thompson seems to be acting more like a King than a director. Thirty years in the Conservancy Board is way to much. New blood with a broader more civic oriented direction is needed badly. Vote in a new commissioner as soon as possible or be prepared to pay a lot more for water. A Whole Lot More!

  • Bender July 13, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    Another reason to slow walk this project. We’ve got enough water already to double or triple our population if the district stops funding with property taxes and charges full cost for water. At that point we might actually be able to afford project, assuming upper Colorado River basin can provide which is far from certain.

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