The Colorado River Basin states have long committed to resolving complex challenges and concerns that affect a river that supplies water to 40 million people in the West. The 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and 2019 Drought Contingency Plans are just two examples of collaborative measures that protect the river and states’ rights to use and develop their respective Colorado River allocations. They were supported by all seven basin states.
In that same spirit, the state of Utah will continue the dialogue about the Lake Powell Pipeline (LPP), with the other basin states, which began early in the project and has continued over the years. Utah will work with them to address concerns recently raised over Utah’s intent to use 5% of its Colorado River compact allocation for the LPP to serve Washington County.
Utah is not the only state continuing to develop its unused Colorado River allocation. Other states have water development projects in various planning stages. Numerous western water projects have successfully worked through unresolved issues while concluding the federal review process.
Completing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review for the LPP has been a 20-year, multi-million-dollar endeavor for the State of Utah and the Washington County Water Conservancy District. The LPP Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) analyzes the purpose and need of a proposed project and considers actions to mitigate potential environmental impacts. The DEIS concluded that Washington County needs a second, water supply that meets its growing demand and the project is the only alternative that accomplishes these objectives.
The LPP is critical to meeting the needs of southern Utah by enhancing the reliability of Washington County’s water system. Without the project, the economic viability and water security of one of the fastest-growing regions in the United States will be harmed.
Utah is fully committed to working with the other basin states to address their concerns while continuing the environmental review process.