From $800 million to just over $1 billion that's how much of a jump there is in the latest construction cost estimate for the Lake Powell pipeline project, the Utah Department of Natural Resources announced Friday.
The latest number comes closer to the $2 billion that critics of the project say the pipeline will cost.
"Costs have risen sharply over the past several years, as they have for similar major construction projects nationwide," Utah Division of Water Resources director Dennis Strong said in a statement. Strong's department is overseeing the pipeline's development. "Our goal is to maintain an optimal engineering and construction schedule to minimize the effects of inflation."
Higher fuel and steel prices are blamed for the project's cost increase. The price tag includes an intake pump station, four booster pump stations, two regulating tanks, seven hydro-power facilities, associated reservoirs and power transmission lines.
The controversial project includes building a pipeline from Lake Powell to Sand Hollow Reservoir near St. George, then running the line from there to Cedar City. In all, 174 miles of pipeline will need to be built. As the water flows through the pipeline, hydroelectric facilities will capture power being generated by the flow, in turn defraying the overall cost by producing electricity for pumping the water.
It's expected the project will be complete by 2020, providing Southern Utah residents "with an unparalleled level of water supply security."
Opponents of the project are skeptical that the Colorado River and Lake Powell will be able to support all water users, present and proposed, in a future that some see as uncertain in terms of just how much water there will be flowing in the Colorado.