Utah's thirst for water comes with $13.7 billion price tag

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  • Abe Sarvis Cedar City, UT
    Oct. 28, 2012 10:43 p.m.

    @ BYU Track Star - the Washington County Water Conservancy District does NOT have a project underway to move water from Lake Powell to St. George. They have an idea to do so, but they've been unable or unwilling to come up either with an actual plan, or any explanation of where the funds to build it would come from. They can't even agree on what number they want to use for the estimated cost - it's been anywhere from $450 million to $2.1 billion. They've offered nothing else but platitudes and generalities, and the longer they've done that (it's been close to 10 years now) the less residents think it's a legitimate proposal.

    Originally, three counties (Washington, Iron, and Kane) were to participate, but earlier this year Iron, having crunched all the available numbers, opted out. Kane was never on the hook for much, since the pipeline would have to go through Kane County anyway and was just paying to tap the line as it passes.

  • DVD Taylorsville, 00
    Oct. 27, 2012 12:37 p.m.

    "Or what happens if your system does not provide water to take care of landscaping as well as enough water to cook or take care of personal sanitation? What happens then?"

    I was in Alamosa Colorado when our water supply was cut off due to Salmonella contamination. We were very lucky to have a responsive and able city government to help address the issue. We probably won't be able to have cities if the water issues aren't addressed. There are much worse things than Salmonella that thrive in untreated, unregulated water, and that's assuming the water hasn't run out entirely.

    There are also technologies that can be developed to produce water that could be researched to scale them up.

  • Emajor Ogden, UT
    Oct. 27, 2012 10:21 a.m.

    BYU Track Star,

    Did I read your comment correctly? Are you stating that the Lake Powell pipeline for Washington County is a way to address the issue of inadequate water supply? If so, that is certainly not the case. The Lake Powell pipeline takes water from the Colorado River, which is one of the most uncertain, over-allocated, and drought-prone water supplies in the entire West. The declining precipitation trend you cite already has and will continue to reduce Colorado River flows. The Lake Powell pipeline does not create water out of thin air; all it does is drain a reservoir that is not being adequately refilled by the precipitation.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Oct. 27, 2012 8:59 a.m.

    Joe, I'm afraid he won't be listening.

  • romorg PROVO, UT
    Oct. 27, 2012 8:59 a.m.


    The word is xeriscape, not "zero scape". I'm not trying to be mean, I'm just trying to educate.

  • BYU Track Star Los Angeles, CA
    Oct. 27, 2012 8:51 a.m.

    Lets cite a recent study done by UC Berkeley Scientists. The Study concluded (and a summary was published in the Des News) that over the next 50 years if weather (precipitation trends continue there will not be adequate water supplies to support the millions of people in the Arid West. These "surplus" millions will have to relocate to somewhere else. Someplace like East of the Mississippi. Some regions in Utah are addressing this issue now. The Washington County Water Authority (think Saint George)has a project under construction to tap Lake Powell via a pipeline and deliver it to the new Sand Hollow Reservoir by Hurricane. The project is scheduled to be completed and on-line in 2020. A couple months ago there was an article in a Utah paper of plans to tap the Mississippi to deliver water to northern Utah. There is an old axiom in the Water Business which is "Water follows the money". The Citizens of Utah need to be educated on water issues as they live in a semi-desert.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Oct. 27, 2012 8:41 a.m.

    Bruce, here you go. I have no agenda. Facts are important. I dont cherry pick info.

    RAND corporation
    "Water consumption in producing oil shale is about 3 barrels per barrel of oil."

    National Oil Shale Association
    "Direct consumptive water requirements range from 1 to 3 barrels of water per barrel of shale oil produced"

    Department of Energy
    "Initial estimates indicate that enough water will be available to support oil shale industry development in the Western states. However, variability of supply during low flow years may cause conflicts among water users."

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Oct. 27, 2012 8:04 a.m.

    And you'll ask the federal government to pay for it. Utah needs to decide what it wants to be.

  • Bruce A. Frank San Jose, CA
    Oct. 27, 2012 7:54 a.m.


    Please quote a non-biased source for that statistic!

  • Bruce A. Frank San Jose, CA
    Oct. 27, 2012 6:19 a.m.

    I was living in SLC when the state decided it was reasonable to spend millions and millions, back when that was a lot of money, to pump water out of the Great Salt Lake to reduce its many feet of flooding by a few inches. About the same time there was a moratorium on new construction in the valley due to inadequate water service capacity. Its 'bout time that pump boondoggle is parted out 'n sold off to fund a desalination plant, killing two birds with one stone. Heck, might be less expensive, and more productive, to build a pipeline to tap the Columbia river at a point just before it dumps into the Pacific than to try to extract virtually non-existent moisture from the desert, by throwing money at it.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Oct. 27, 2012 5:33 a.m.

    Think water is a problem today?

    Keep in mind that shale oil production requires about 3 barrels of water to product 1 barrel of oil.

  • Wixom Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 27, 2012 12:31 a.m.

    I agree we need to keep these systems up and they obviously need to be expanded and probably upsized regularly to reach new housing developments. I think conservation is definitely the thing to do, but it's like putting energy efficient bulbs and appliances in my home and running a fan in the window at night instead of the AC - in spite of doing these sorts of things we still have new power plants and power lines being built. As far as cutting back on landscaping, I don't see many people biting. I have a neighbor that rocked his park strip, but the real environmentalist in the neighborhood has a big lot full of huge trees with lawn underneath. All that green surface area sucks up all kinds of water but it does keep the place cool. The public will dictate through their actions and through the market what lot sizes and landscaping will be, but even so you've got to add to the systems to serve new developments and keep them maintained. Our lives are so much better because of our water and sewer systems - I've lived abroad with marginal water and sewer systems

  • OJF64 Sandy, UT
    Oct. 26, 2012 7:06 p.m.

    A huge problem with potential water shortage is the fact that there are many cities that require x amount of green space. This is one of the irresopnsible cites rules/laws that are out dated and must be changed. Zero scape should be the norm not wasting water on grass in a state that is a desert.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Oct. 26, 2012 6:44 p.m.

    It's ridiculous. We tax productive activity so we can spend tens of billions of dollars on these kinds of projects, and then the only thing we're willing to do about water conservation is put up a few billboards saying "gee, it'd be nice if you conserved water!"

    Hint: if you want people to conserve water, raise the prices. Using taxes on productive activities to subsidize huge lawns and golf courses in the middle of the desert is absolutely absurd.

    The cost of water projects should be borne by those using the water. When there's such a tremendous disconnect between the true social cost of something and the price that's paid by those using it, the result is a tremendous waste of resources. This is an economic, social, and environmental disaster and will only get worse as we persist in totally divorcing costs from prices.