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Lake Powell Pipeline Approved for Environmental Analysis (Temorarily Suspended)
December 26, 2017
INTERVENOR SUBMISSIONS (Original due date was February 9, 2018)
NOTE: It is important to understand that the water for Lake Powell Pipeline is actually stored in Flaming Gorge Reservoir near the Wyoming/Utah border. Once the water is released, it flows down the Green River and then into Lake Powell, where the proposed pipeline begins.
NOTE: Scroll down for information to help you submit timely comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commision.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has given its initial approval to Utah's application to build the controversial Lake Powell Pipeline to pipe Colorado River water from Glen Canyon Dam 140 miles to St. George, but many hurdles remain for the project. Federal regulators have tentatively approved Utah's application to build the Lake Powell Pipeline, but they've also thrown the state an unexpected curveball.
Kimberly D. Bose
Secretary(Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 1st Street, N.E.(Washington, D.C. 20426
RE: P- 12966-001
Comments from Organizations, Comments Over 6,000 Characters, and Comments Including Photos or Graphics:
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ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD: LAKE POWELL PIPELINE
CLICK HERE to visit the FERC document library for the complete administrative record of the Lake Powell Pipeline The docket # is: P-12966.
The docket is huge. You can reduce the query by selecting a subdocket, which are: 001; 002; 003; 004 & 005 (the files are in chronological order).
It is important to understand that the water for Lake Powell Pipeline is actually stored in Flaming Gorge Reservoir near the Wyoming/Utah border. Once the water is released, it flows down the Green River and then into Lake Powell, where the proposed pipeline begins.
The priority of this water right is low and the cost to build this project is high, and so it is a speculative gamble. The authority to even move the project forward is based on human documents for a supply that Nature cannot provide. So the water to fill the pipeline will arrive from water transfers from agriculture. This is the hidden cost of the project and for perpetuity. In the near future, every municipality in the basin will be chasing water transfers and the market will become highly competitive and consequently expensive.1) On May 6, 2011, the day the coalition of intervenors filed their comment letter with FERC opposing the project, the Bureau of Reclamation and the state of Utah signed the following: Agreement of Utah and the United States for Securing the Central Utah Project Water Supply.
The agreement states that the water rights for Lake Powell Pipeline are now subordinate to the younger water rights of the Central Utah Project. When a shortage declaration is announced, or when there is a Compact Call--and depending on the severity of the shortage--water to the Lake Powell Pipeline will be cut-off before deliveries to the Central Utah Project. This agreement is much like the water right of the Central Arizona Project, which is subordinate to the state of California.
2) In 2007 the Bureau of Reclamation responded to the Upper Colorado River Commission about the safe yield of water withdrawals from Flaming Gorge Reservoir. The water in Flaming Gorge is available not only to Utah, but also to Wyoming and Colorado. Reclamation determined the annual safe yield is 165,000 acre-feet. The mandate of Reclamation is to ensure hydropower generation and maintain instream flows for the critical habitat of endangered fish (and recreation) of the Green River.
3) A different use for this water is now being developed by the upper basin states: Drought Contingency Planning. Though the plan has not been formally adopted, the preliminary information provided so far includes the emergency release of surplus water from upper basin reservoirs to maintain hydropower generation at Lake Powell. This likely means the water right of Lake Powell Pipeline will be subordinate to the mandate of Drought Contingency Planning. The states may unwisely give the LLP an exemption, so the public will have to see what the final agreement entails.
The fact that Drought Contingency Planning documents are under development clearly indicates the water budget of the Colorado River is seriously impaired, and any-and-all future projects in the Colorado River should be abandoned for the simple reason that it is the intelligent choice.
See: Drought Contingency Planing Update (October, 2017)
The document above indicates the maximum evacuation of upper basin reservoirs to Lake Powell would be as high as 2 million acre-feet. Incidentally, the generators at Glen Canyon Dam would discharge 2 million acre-feet in about 3 months. When considering the 2007 document by Reclamation cited in #2 (above), this estimate of 2 million acre-feet must be an exaggeration. The document from Reclamation explains that the annual release could not exceed more than 165,000 acre-feet per year. Flaming Gorge Reservoir is the third largest reservoir by volume in the Colorado River Basin. The smaller upper basin reservoirs, such as Blue Mesa on the Gunnison River and Navajo Reservoir on the San Juan River, could not possibly release more than 165,000 acre-feet.
4) UTE INDIAN WATER COMPACT: This tribal water right has yet to be fully developed; the tribes water right is senior to the Central Utah Project and the Lake Powell Pipeline. According to Utah law (Title 73, Chapter 21 Ute Indian Water Compact), and in perpetuity, the Ute Indian Tribe and others can deplete 248,943 acre-feet per annum from a total diversion of 471,035 acre-feet per annum. This water compact is more fully set out in the "Tabulation of Ute Indian Water Rights," which is on file with the Utah State Engineer. The oldest priority date of this appropriation is October 3, 1861; there are other tribal priority rights that are in the 1880s.
5) Economics (from Utah Rivers Council): A group of 20 economists from several Utah universities analyzed the impact that $2 billion of debt would have on residents of Washington and Kane Counties. They found that repaying this debt would require dramatic increases in water rates, impact fees and property taxes far outweighing the benefits of extra water.
In fact, the cost was so prohibitive that when Iron County residents who were also slated to receive water learned the true cost of the pipeline, they pressured their elected officials to formally withdraw from the project. Iron County's reversal is a warning to Washington & Kane County residents: Shouldering massive debt and rate increases for unneeded water is a bad recipe for the future.
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