Utah pipeline hurts Nevada

Nevada should challenge the Lake Powell Pipeline because it would promote Utah’s wasting of precious Colorado River water when deliveries to Nevada are being cut back.

Nevada relies heavily on Colorado River water, and it received the smallest allocation under the 1922 Colorado River Compact. Due to climate change and the megadrought, some deliveries already have been reduced and caused economic hardship. Unfortunately, despite this harsh reality, Utah politicians and the Bureau of Reclamation are pushing to approve the controversial pipeline before President Donald Trump may leave office in January. The bureau recently released a biased environmental study that fails to analyze any water conservation alternatives.

Washington County, Utah, where I live, would receive the pipeline water. It uses an average of 302 gallons per capita per day. In contrast, the national average is 138. The county refuses to implement reasonable water conservation measures that have been successful elsewhere.

The pipeline may violate the Colorado River Compact by transferring upper basin water for lower basin use. Congressional approval is normally needed for such a transfer, but Utah is not seeking it. Pipeline construction would harm public lands, scenic vistas and wildlife, such as the Mojave desert tortoise.

During this pandemic economy, with high-priority public needs short on funding, this $3 billion pipeline boondoggle should not proceed without congressional approval and a fair analysis of alternatives that are likely to be cheaper and less environmentally destructive.