Lake Powell Pipeline opponents urge cancellation of the project

Dec 20, 2023, 2:00 PM | Updated: May 30, 2024, 9:08 am

The Wahweap Marina and parts of Lake Powell in Arizona, foreground, and Utah, background, are pictu...

The Wahweap Marina and parts of Lake Powell in Arizona, foreground, and Utah, background, are pictured on Monday, July 18, 2022. (Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

PAGE, Ariz. — Colorado River Basin conservation groups have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior urging it to cancel the Lake Powell Pipeline project that’s been in the works since 2006.

The conservation groups said the Washington County Water District’s 20-year water plan demonstrates that the county does not need the water. 

In the letter, the groups also said that “a number of recent hydrological, environmental, and political issues impacting the Colorado River Basin have introduced uncertainty regarding the timing and yield of that project.”

Additionally, the groups said the new issues have prompted water officials to evaluate other options. 

How the Pipeline work would work

According to the United States Bureau of Reclamation website, the Lake Powell Pipeline would begin at Lake Powell in Page, Arizona. The pipeline would end at Sand Hollow Reservoir in St. George, Utah.

It is intended to bring additional water supply to Washington County, Utah. 

According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, Lake Powell’s water levels fell to a record low in 2023. That level rebounded later, however, NASA said that drought is still an issue.  

Groups question Washington County’s needs based on population, water usage

The letter compared Washington County, Utah to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona. Their comparison found that Albuquerque and Tucson used about 100,000 acre-feet of water to sustain populations of about 700,00.

In contrast, Washington County used the same amount of water to sustain a population of only 180,000. 

“Given that the project sponsor no longer believes the project is necessary for its water future, there is no longer a purpose or need for this project,” said the conservation groups. 

Additionally, the conservation groups allege that Washington County’s water usage is high. They said that a 2020 draft of an environmental impact statement showed a single Washington County resident uses 306 gallons of water per day. 

In comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency said the average American uses 82 gallons of water per day. 

KSL.com reported that Utah’s cities have the lowest excessive water use rate in comparison to surrounding states. The letter urged Washington County to raise excessive use rates to curb overuse. 

Lack of surplus water

The Washington Post reported that the reservoirs in the basin fell to “dangerously low levels.” As a result, the Biden administration called for reductions in water usage. 

According to the letter, water flow has dropped by 20% in the Colorado River Basin since 2000. Scientists believe that there could be a 25-40% decline in Colorado River Basin water levels. 

“Approving additional water diversions in this era of flow declines is laden with risks, which have painful consequences to millions of people across the Basin,” the conservation groups wrote in the letter requesting that the project be canceled.

Water rights of indigenous populations

Many of the 40 million people who live in the Colorado River Basin are indigenous to the region.  

The indigenous groups that call the basin home have “repeatedly indicated” their rights to 20-25% of the water in the Colorado River Basin, according to the authors of the letter. 

However, PBS reported that while the indigenous groups have rights to nearly a quarter of the water, the rights are just “paper rights.” Still, according to the PBS story, water has been stolen from indigenous groups on multiple occasions throughout history. 

“And their water rights should be satisfied and/or fully addressed before the Bureau entertains new water diversions that further threaten U.S. treaty obligations,” the conservation groups said in their letter.





We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


A man works to put out a rogue fire in American Fork Canyon....

Mariah Maynes

Prevent your campfire from turning wild

Planning on having a campfire? Make sure you don't accidentally ignite a wildfire.

1 hour ago

South Jordan officials say more people are using bikes, but not necessarily on roads shared with au...

Simone Seikaly

As growth continues, South Jordan looks to bikes and more trails

South Jordan officials say more people are using bikes, but not necessarily on roads shared with automobiles.

6 hours ago

A group of Weber State University students, faculty, and community members pose with the school's f...

Mariah Maynes

Weber State outdoor group conquers climb to Mount Everest base camp

According to Weber State University, a group of 16 students, faculty, and community members climbed to Mount Everest's base camp.

23 hours ago

A small American flag is illuminated by fireworks on Monday, July 4, 2022....

Tammy Kikuchi, Reporter

Fireworks season nears in Utah, here’s what you need to know

Fireworks can now be sold across Utah, but you can't light them off just yet. And they can never be lit on U.S. Forest Service or BLM land.

24 hours ago

A field fire heading toward houses in Herriman caused crews to respond and shut down power leading ...

Mary Culbertson, KSL TV

Crews make ‘remarkable’ rescue of Herriman homes threatened by field fire

A field fire heading toward houses in Herriman caused crews to shut down power leading to over 5,500 homes.

1 day ago

A father and son are safe after being rescued from a river up Little Cottonwood Canyon on Sunday. (...

Mark Jones, KSLTV.com

Father, son are OK after being rescued from river in Little Cottonwood Canyon

A 9-year-boy was swept away in a Little Cottonwood Canyon river. His father went after him, but was also swept down the river.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Lake Powell Pipeline opponents urge cancellation of the project