I have been involved in water studies for almost 15 years and Grand County, Moab City and GWSSA have never published how much water is necessary for build out of our area under our current zoning code.
There is no doubt in my mind that we do not have sufficient water for build out, a university and hundreds of new hotel rooms. The USGS study says we have approximately 6,000 acre-feet of water. A house in Grand County uses approximately one-half an acre-foot of water per year and assuming three people per house we have enough water for 12,000 more homes or 36,000 people. Hotel rooms significantly reduce the number of people that will live in the area. No matter how you play with the numbers the results should still be the same. We will not have sufficient water.
So why do we have no published studies?
GWSSA is the agency that controls the supply of water in Grand County. GWSSA’s board has two or more developers. The nightmare of most developers is to have a moratorium on building due to no water. If there is no study of the water supply, there is no problem with the water supply.
Grand County has almost no control of the water supply in the county. As long as GWSSA writes a letter saying water is in the pipes for a development, Grand County will not do a study that would contradict the letter from GWSSA. The county does not want to place a moratorium on development and be crucified by developers.
Moab City owns all or most of the available water and they feel they have enough water for build out. They do not need a moratorium and do not want the problems caused by restricting development. Your conservation of water in Moab City is a waste of effort. The result is another hotel room and a loss of any surplus water that can be used in a drought.
Having no study will surely result in our low-cost water from the Glen Canyon aquifer being depleted for large-scale developments. Future developments will have to pay a much higher price for alternative sources of water.
My suggestion is that every land owner in the county applies to the state for 6.5 acre-feet of water for irrigation. This water right may be exchanged for culinary water when you develop your property. As long as the current political entities in Grand County show little incentive to protect local landowners, you should protect yourself from future high cost water.