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Stopping the Lake Powell Pipeline – The Way Forward
 
The public’s role of reviewing the Lake Powell Pipeline Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Lake Powell Pipeline is complete. We can turn our attention to the way forward.
 
Last week’s Bulletin reported that one of the 14,000 LPP DEIS comments received by the BOR was a bombshell: ALL of the Colorado River Compact states except for Utah asked the BOR to pause the EIS review and approval process until the parties “are able to reach consensus regarding outstanding legal and operational concerns.” They objected, as did we, to moving water from the Upper Basin at Lake Powell to the Lower Basin in the Virgin River watershed. Such a transfer is prohibited by the Compact without approval by the Basin States and Congress. They also voiced concern, as did we, about sustainable water allocations and the need for serious conservation.
 
The underlying reasons for the six-states’ letter are clear. The 1922 Compact promoters ignored science, basing allocations only on a short window of very “wet” years. The US Congress bought into this pipedream when it approved the Compact. There was never enough water to satisfy those allocations. The inevitable crisis has arrived: dramatic growth, states fully tapping their unrealistic allocations, and climate change. Any one of these would cause a crisis. Together, they are the death knell for the LPP.
 
Unlike Utah, other Compact states have taken proactive steps to reduce wasteful water use. Washington County’s 300+ gallons per person per day is an obvious outlier. Washington County, and many other Utah Counties, continue to neglect the need for conservation. The LPP DEIS did not even analyze a water conservation alternative and predicts only meager improvements in water use over the next 50 years.
 
In short, the case for the LPP is falling apart.
 
On September 24, the state of Utah and Washington County Water Conservation District filed a formal request to BOR for “an extended timeline to allow more time to adequately consider comments submitted” on the LPP DEIS. The BOR has agreed to this request, meaning that a supplemental DEIS will be developed.
 
Considering all these developments, the final federal decision on the LPP EIS will certainly occur after the elections and likely after the presidential inauguration.
 
Our path forward is as muddy as the Colorado. The effort to end the LPP will now involve action by the Compact states, political action at federal, state, and local levels, and possible legal action. The outcome of the presidential and Congressional elections will have an influence on our strategies. The results from discussions and negotiations with Compact States are equally important. These uncertainties make it difficult to determine now what action we will need to take and when we need to take it.
 
Whatever the way forward, we will be in a better position when our federal, state, and local officials are better informed about the LPP and the substantial constituency opposed to it. Now is the time, during this election season, to contact our elected officials and those running for office to share information and your opinion about the LPP.
 
Many of you have a working relationship with our elected officials at one or more levels of government. Some of you care deeply about stopping the LPP but have not contacted an official. before. The CSU Website offers guidance on how to approach leaders in a way that opens the kind of dialogue that can lead to change. Please take a few minutes to review our suggestions and take action to engage with officials on the perils of the LPP.

Together we have made great strides in this effort. We will stop this damaging project. Now is the time to take those next, positive steps.

 
Conserve Southwest Utah
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