In its monthly meeting held Sept. 20, FERC clarified it was not the right agency to permit a water diversion of the Colorado River, since it is an energy regulatory agency.
The Utah Division of Water Resources has been retreating from the costly power generation facilities of the Lake Powell pipeline because they have no way to repay Utah taxpayers.
The pipeline would transport nearly 77 million gallons of Colorado River water a day to Washington County in southwest Utah where residents use 325 gallons per person per day, according to the FERC application. Amid widespread drought in the Colorado River Basin, Utah is pursuing the massive 140-mile pipeline regardless of the reliability of Colorado River flows and the impacts on downstream states.
“This is great news for Utah taxpayers because there is an abundance of less expensive water sources available to Washington County for a small fraction of the pipeline’s cost,” said Zach Frankel, executive director of Utah Rivers Council. “Perhaps the Division of Water Resources will be forced to acknowledge these alternatives instead of pretending they don’t exist.”
The Bureau of Reclamation recently announced there was a 90 percent chance of shortage in the Colorado River next year, which will occur if Lake Mead drops below 1,075 feet above sea level. This triggers a Tier 1 shortage where Arizona would lose the amount of water that would supply 2.4 million people a year, while Nevada would lose enough water to supply 96,000 people a year.