LAS VEGAS – A pipeline project that critics are calling a “multi-billion-dollar boondoggle” was delayed this week after Utah water officials asked for further federal environmental review of the project.
The Utah Division of Water Resources and the Washington County Water Conservancy District jointly requested the Bureau of Reclamation extend the federal review process of the Lake Powell Pipeline project to “allow more time to adequately consider comments submitted by the public, tribes, non-government organizations and fellow Colorado River Basin states.”
The Lake Powell Pipeline, proposed to divert 28 billion gallons of water annually from the Colorado River to serve southern Utah communities, has been criticized for its hasty federal environmental review. The Trump Administration had listed the project as a candidate to be fast-tracked, which would allow the project to be excluded from further environmental review.
Critics, including stakeholders from six western states, blasted the project earlier this month. In a series of comments submitted in the Bureau of Reclamation’s environmental review they noted that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement failed to take into account a number of issues. Among those issues, opponents cited the pipeline’s potential impact on Lake Mead, availability of water in the Colorado River, effects of climate change and drought on Colorado River water levels, and the lack of proposed alternatives such as conservation programs as missing from the DEIS.
“This is proof that the Colorado-River killing, water-sucking project is drowning under its own weight,” said Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network. “So far, the federal environmental review has been a slapdash, ram-and-jam process that didn’t study alternatives, climate change and effects on Lake Mead.”
“The delay of the environmental review affirms that Nevada and the other Colorado River Basin States are having an impact in this process against Utah,” said Tick Segerblom, Clark County Commissioner. “With climate change and drought threatening us every day, we must be vigilant until the end. We cannot let our water supply be sucked away for golf courses and green lawns in Southern Utah.”