On the EDge: Just say ‘no’ to the pipeline

OPINION — I was hoping that somehow, some way, this whole Lake Powell Pipeline nonsense would just go away. Unfortunately, the plan to pump 86,000 acre-feet of water 139 miles from the lake to St. George breathes on.

I thought this was a dumb idea years ago, and I have heard nothing since that would lead me to change my mind. In fact, I am even more strongly opposed to this ludicrous idea today than I was in the past.

This whole proposal is based on the idea that Southern Utah will, before too long, be a teeming metropolis with 300,000 to 500,000 people. That just isn’t going to happen. At least not in the foreseeable future.

First of all, there is nothing economically, culturally or aesthetically pleasing enough about the area to draw that many people.

Look, Southern Utah is a nice place, but not that nice.

More importantly, should this project, estimated to cost from $1.4 billion to $2.4 billion, go through, it could require a 138 percent hike in impact fees, which are already outlandish, and a 678 percent increase in water fees, pricing newcomers out of the equation.

But, as the TV pitchman says, “But wait, there’s more!”

With this handy, dandy environmentally unsound pipeline, each Washington County resident will take on $800 in debt every year for the next 50 years.

That’s outrageous.

It is also an unnecessary expense that would make many think twice before relocating their families or businesses here. We have seen, even in Southern Utah, how willing the residents are to conserve water.

They do a good job. In fact, I remember when Cedar City instituted penalties for excessive water use and offered guidelines for conservation, residents cut back so severely that the city had to raise water rates to make up for declining revenue because of the decline in usage.

Southern Utah could have easily made huge strides in this area by implementing gray water delivery systems. I heard a complaint once that it would be “too expensive” to install a countywide system that would use recycled water for lawns and green spaces. So can we afford to spend $2.4 billion on a pipeline fraught with huge annual overhead costs that will remain for the lifetime of the project?

Another consideration: What happens when Lake Powell dries up?

Look, whether you believe in climate change, global warming or any of the other environmental maladies that have beset our planet, the irrefutable fact is that Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the United States, has witnessed a dramatic decline, currently ranging from 39-51 percent capacity. So, what happens if Washington County incurs this massive debt to build the pipeline but that water supply suddenly dries up?

The question, of course, remains as to water priorities and who sets them, primarily focusing on how we divvy up the water.

Should it go to California’s agricultural fields that help feed the nation or the golf courses in the Southern California desert that are lush and green, even during the dog-day heat of August?

Should it go to Utah, whose snowpack has become unreliable?

And, how much Colorado River water, which feeds Lake Powell, should remain in Colorado, another important agricultural state? What about the tourists in Las Vegas or ranchers in New Mexico? How much water do they deserve?

The complex negotiations and deals signed over the years have resulted in a vast over-allocation of Colorado River water, and that can be dangerous in many ways. It is, of course, a hotly contested political issue that pits Colorado against Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and California in a struggle for water rights.

In a less-civilized age, these water disputes were settled with six-guns on a dusty Old West street. Now, of course, the fight lands in the courts where attorneys, well-schooled in milking their clients, will keep it alive for as long as the billing hours last.

All that’s getting soaked — and not with water in this case — are the people who end up footing the bill for these expensive courtroom excursions.

Keeping Lake Powell at a respectable water level is also crucial because Glen Canyon Dam, which was built to create Lake Powell, is a critical part of the power grid, with its massive turbines generating power for a large chunk of the Southwest.

Finally, the will of the people in Southern Utah is to oppose, in general, continued growth.

Residents want all the perks — if you want to call them that — of the big-box stores and lifeless chain restaurants that come with a big city but do not want the other effects.

Most in the region would rather people leave than welcome newcomers who challenge the status quo or established mores of the area, even though growth and diversity are powerful in keeping a city viable, lively and healthy.

Even if Southern Utah was poised and welcoming of such growth, the environmental impact of carving through some beautiful wilderness would be enough of a reason to oppose this proposition.

Jobs were promised in relation to the pipeline, but those same kind of jobs could be had easily by instituting a countywide gray water system.

The people should reject this noxious idea. It would save money, save water and leave some pristine lands untouched.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.


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  • .... January 19, 2016 at 8:32 am

    THE PIPELINE IS COMING ! Muahahahaha and there is nothing you can do or say to stop it ! they DON’T care what you think !

    • NotSoFast January 19, 2016 at 11:55 am

      This is one time I wish the BLM would say ‘ Sorry Washington County Realtors Association, there’s too many turtles in the path to install a pipeline’. Then again, if you grease my palm? we’ll let the folks in New York City help pay and call it a needed fight against Global Warming or something.

    • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 19, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      THE LORD has decided on this pipe. THE WORD OF THE LORD is final. amen

  • NotSoFast January 19, 2016 at 9:23 am

    This household is in total agreement with you Ed. Thanks for your logic.

    • .... January 19, 2016 at 1:02 pm

      They don’t care what you or your household thinks ha ha ha it’s coming . so deal with it !

  • Not_So_Much January 19, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Thanks ED for putting my thoughts into words. I keep asking myself why and other than greed by a few have no answer. Please keep posting so more people give this the attention it needs and reject the notion that it will happen regardless.

    • .... January 19, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      Hey NotSoSmart ! THE PIPELINE IS COMING ! and they don’t care what you and Ed think ! Muahahahaha !

  • anybody home January 19, 2016 at 10:35 am

    200,000 to 300,000 more Mormons in southern Utah? I can see at least a dozen more tabernacles in the picture and churches! Churches everywhere. The Spires of St. George! Gotta have water for those baptisms…

  • Curtis January 19, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Ed — your comment about future availability of Lake Powell water in the future is spot on. The proponents for the pipeline, and in particular the WCWCD, would have us believe that the Colorado River compact that allocates water to the states is somehow cast in stone and is unchangeable. Utah has two Senators and four Representatives. Between Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California there are ten Senators and 76 Representatives. The compact can be changed.

    Based on your arguments your last paragraph is reasonable. The problem is there are no plans for we the people to have an opportunity to either accept or reject either the pipeline itself or a financing scheme for it. All the important decisions are being made by the unelected and largely unaccountable WCWCD. Our elected city and county leaders seem to generally be in favor of the pipeline and willing to defer to the WCWCD.

    There will be several election cycles between now and when the final decision on the pipeline is made. The voters in the city and county should demand that anyone running for city or county office commit that, at a minimum, they will actively oppose the pipeline unless the citizens have an opportunity to vote on it.

    Otherwise …. will be right.

    • .... January 19, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      THE PIPELINE IS COMING ! Happy Days. !!!

      • Ron January 20, 2016 at 8:58 am

        So is Jesus….Muawahahahahaha

  • BIG GUY January 19, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Great summary, Ed. I have consistently opposed the pipeline and join you in arguing against it. To the extent that the WCWCD claims that the pipeline is needed to prevent future water shortages, it merely exposes the fact that they have already handed out more water taps than was prudent. Throw the bums out and get some folks that will manage the water that we have.

  • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 19, 2016 at 11:58 am

    it seems that the local mormons have already decided on building this thing (the is NOT a democracy here), and it’s just a matter of time. A lot of mormons stand to gain a lot of wealth from this pipe(hundreds of millions), and they’re not gonna let it go, ever…

  • Ron January 19, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Let the people vote!!

    • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 19, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      voting is for socialist libruls. if u dont like it leave.

  • Robert January 19, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    you know this pipeline has been talked about for 20 years and according to the official documents In 2017 FERC will start a process of an Environmental Impact Statement. If the project EIS is approved with a Record of Decision Early 2019 Finalization of design 2020 Pipeline construction starts, will take at least 4 years to complete 2024-2030 Water deliveries expected to begin within this time frame, how many of you anti pipeline will still live here or even be alive in 10 years

    • Chris January 20, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      “how many of you anti pipeline will still live here or even be alive in 10 years”? In all likelihood, the vast majority.

  • eddantes56 January 19, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    “First of all, there is nothing economically, culturally or aesthetically pleasing enough about the area to draw that many people.”

    “Look, Southern Utah is a nice place, but not that nice.”

    I have not idea if so. Utah will every expand to 300K+. I kind of hope not.

    Ed, you are entitled to your opinion and I to mine. You and your liberal comrades are hypocrites. If you lived in Ohio or New York, etc, you would never make the statement that one of the places you claim to reside in is “Nice, but not that nice.”

    You claim to worship at the altar of diversity but if there is a culture that you don’t adher to or agree with then, according to you, that culture is inferior (as to drawing people to the area??)

    How would your highly developed analytical skills tackle Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans? Are the economies, cultures and aesthetics of the cities a draw to increase the population? Are they nice places but not that nice?

    It’s a free country and you can live where you choose, but why in the hell would you choose to live part-time in an area that is not that nice. If so. Utah doesn’t have the draw to appeal to large amounts of people, what is the cultural and aesthetic draw for you? Good grief, can’t you make one positive comment about southern Utah that doesn’t revolve around your fellow comrades and your toxic view of the world?

    What a negative guy you are!

    • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 19, 2016 at 11:50 pm

      next time Ed runs down to mexico i hope he takes back a bus full of illegals with him. STG will grow the way vegas did, just wait.

      TRUMP FOR 2016!!!

    • Chris January 20, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      ” I kind of hope not.” That is the only coherent and important thing you said.

  • .... January 19, 2016 at 10:19 pm


  • .... January 20, 2016 at 8:35 am

    Behold Brothas and Sisthas ! The Pipeline is a cummin to us !

    Praise the Lode ! Amen

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