The much-debated Lake Powell Pipeline, which would pump water 139 miles from Lake Powell and cost an estimated $1.1 billion, has been proposed by area officials as the only viable solution for meeting the community’s future needs. Even with new projections showing population growth, their outlook isn’t changing.
Opponents of the pipeline have argued for years the county should look to conservation and smarter growth planning in order to meet the needs of the future, even when growth projections were predicting the county would grow to more than 800,000 people by 2060. So, when the state released its new projections last week showing a recession-fueled 30 percent reduction from those previous figures, they were adamant that the logic used to justify the pipeline was flawed.
But even under the new growth curve projections, Washington County is forecast to grow to more than 581,000 people in the next 50 years. No amount of conservation will be enough to stretch the county’s supplies enough to meet that number, said officials. In addition, water managers expect their supply projections could be changing as well, and not for the better. New climate change studies and an impending state analysis of the Virgin River Basin are likely to show that the county’s current supplies
Add those two factors together, and water managers at the area and state levels are still convinced that they need to proceed as originally planned with the pipeline, which they have said would be needed by 2020 for the county to continue offering new water resources. The Spectrum