...input on the Lake Powell Pipeline| KSL.com

birdsnest

Well-Known Member

JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
I think it's always important to submit comments on difficult and controversial projects (even if perceived as a "done deal"), in part to have a meaningful discussion and analysis, in part in order to establish a legal record, but mostly to make decisionmakers face potential political consequences if they choose to go forward with an ill-considered action that was not thoroughly vetted. In that context, here were my comments relative to the scope of the EIS that will be written on the project. I'm looking forward to reading the document when it comes out...
  1. What would the effect of the diversion be on the sustainability of a water level of Lake Powell necessary to sustain recreational and power benefits?
  2. The project is moving water to an area that is hydrologically in the Lower Basin, even if it is within Utah, which is an Upper Basin state. What are the legal consequences of this action relative to the Law of the River as generally defined and applied? What would be the “real world” effects on water use in both the upper and lower basins as a result?
  3. The NEPA document needs to consider alternatives that analyze improved conservation in areas intended to benefit from the pipeline in determining whether the proposed action is the least environmentally damaging alternative. As it is, existing per capita water use in Washington County (and Utah in general) greatly exceeds many if not most major metro areas in the southwestern USA, including areas that benefit from the Colorado River Storage Project. A project like this should not be considered until all other feasible measures that achieve the same potential benefit have been implemented. It is not financially or ecologically responsible to insist on green lawns when native and drought-tolerant landscaping could reduce or perhaps remove the need for the project.
  4. The EIS needs to address environmental justice issues, particularly with regard to landowners along the route who may realize unfair economic benefits from the extension of such a pipeline, at the expense of taxpayers who are paying for the project.
  5. The document needs to address maintenance issues, especially with regard to cost and possible ecological damage related to sustained vehicular access to the pipeline.
  6. The document must address the possibility of introducing non-native species as a result of pipeline extension.
  7. The document must address potential growth-inducing impacts that result from the project, both as a result of introducing a new source of water to the area, and the increase of property values along the route that incentivize development along the way, thus negating the purpose of the project relative to providing an increased water supply to serve existing development.
  8. What cultural resources will be affected along the route? And how will this affect tribal water supplies?
  9. What are the project's potential effects on water quality?
  10. Where will fill be imported from or exported to as part of project construction? The EIS needs to consider potential health hazards from soil contamination.
  11. What effects on endangered species, including critical habitat to those species, will occur?
  12. Will the diversion of water have direct or indirect impacts on such species?
  13. What will be the effect on fisheries in Lake Powell?
  14. What will be the long-term effect on the ability for other Upper Basin states to access their rights to water within the Colorado River basin when there is already a demonstrated long-term inability for all states to achieve their theoretical allocations?
  15. What will the long-term effects of climate change be on the sustainability of this project in the context of regional water supply?
 
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birdsnest

Well-Known Member
I think it's always important to submit comments on difficult and controversial projects (even if perceived as a "done deal"), in part to have a meaningful discussion and analysis, in part in order to establish a legal record, but mostly to make decisionmakers face potential political consequences if they choose to go forward with an ill-considered action that was not thoroughly vetted. In that context, here were my comments on relative to the scope of the EIS that will be written on the project. I'm looking forward to reading the document when it comes out...
  1. What would the effect of the diversion be on the sustainability of a water level of Lake Powell necessary to sustain recreational and power benefits?
  2. The project is moving water to an area that is hydrologically in the Lower Basin, even if it is within Utah, which is an Upper Basin state. What are the legal consequences of this action relative to the Law of the River as generally defined and applied? What would be the “real world” effects on water use in both the upper and lower basins as a result?
  3. The NEPA document needs to consider alternatives that analyze improved conservation in areas intended to benefit from the pipeline in determining whether the proposed action is the least environmentally damaging alternative. As it is, existing per capita water use in Washington County (and Utah in general) greatly exceeds many if not most major metro areas in the southwestern USA, including areas that benefit from the Colorado River Storage Project. A project like this should not be considered until all other feasible measures that achieve the same potential benefit have been implemented. It is not financially or ecologically responsible to insist on green lawns when native and drought-tolerant landscaping could reduce or perhaps remove the need for the project.
  4. The EIS needs to address environmental justice issues, particularly with regard to landowners along the route who may realize unfair economic benefits from the extension of such a pipeline, at the expense of taxpayers who are paying for the project.
  5. The document needs to address maintenance issues, especially with regard to cost and possible ecological damage related to sustained vehicular access to the pipeline.
  6. The document must address the possibility of introducing non-native species as a result of pipeline extension.
  7. The document must address potential growth-inducing impacts that result from the project, both as a result of introducing a new source of water to the area, and the increase of property values along the route that incentive development along the way, thus negating the purpose of the project relative to providing an increased water supply to serve existing development.
  8. What cultural resources will be affected along the route? And how will this affect tribal water supplies?
  9. What are the project's potential effects on water quality?
  10. Where will fill be imported from or exported to as part of project construction? The EIS needs to consider potential health hazards from soil contamination.
  11. What effects on endangered species, including critical habitat to those species, will occur?
  12. Will the diversion of water have direct or indirect on such species?
  13. What will be the effect on fisheries in Lake Powell?
  14. What will be the long-term effect on the ability for other Upper Basin states to access their rights to water within the Colorado River basin when there is already a demonstrated long-term inability for all states to achieve their theoretical allocations?
  15. What will the long-term effects of climate change be on the sustainability of this project in the context of regional water supply?
serious and nrcessay questions, one and all. Great job.
 

fastarget

Well-Known Member
Would it not be simple to have in place regulations that state that "the natural resources of an area can accommodate a certain number of dwellings, once reached, contractors would have to go build elsewhere on land that has available resources"? It is obvious that certain areas in the southwest have reached that point, and we need to shift populations to areas where nature can still provide. Sounds Orwellian, but realistic.
 

JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
Would it not be simple to have in place regulations that state that "the natural resources of an area can accommodate a certain number of dwellings, once reached, contractors would have to go build elsewhere on land that has available resources"? It is obvious that certain areas in the southwest have reached that point, and we need to shift populations to areas where nature can still provide. Sounds Orwellian, but realistic.
It's an interesting concept, and it's consistent with what J.W. Powell's perspective was when he came back from his ventures in the West. He saw there wasn't enough water the way they developed things in the East. Of course, part of his conceptual solution was to "reclaim" land through irrigation, which also assumed there'd never be a very large population in the West, and that the water would be applied mostly for agricultural pursuits. I think he'd be surprised to see how many people live in the West today.

But your idea of using resource limitations to limit growth potential is at the heart of environmental planning as a profession, and has been tried to different degrees of success by a lot of cities in the west, particularly in California... But that approach inevitably runs into one problem or another, including the fact that you can't push population growth toward someone else's property, or tell another city or state what it can do. But the most basic problem is that the overall population of the 11 western states (not including Alaska and Hawaii) is about 80 million, and 110 million if you throw in Texas. In 1890, the same area had only 3 million people (5 million if you include Texas). But it's the same amount of water today as in 1890, actually less, since the aquifers in the West have been on average dropping over time, and climate change is reducing rainfall potential in the long run. Reservoirs are useful, but only as a means of temporary impoundment and as a distribution center for water. Over time, if it doesn't rain, there is no water, and reservoirs are empty.

Of course, you can try to incentivize people to move around and settle elsewhere where there are more resources, but there also have to be jobs there, and top-down approaches related to population settlement have never really worked (except in the mid-1800s, when there was an "unlimited" amount of "unsettled" land in the West, two false assumptions that had big long-term consequences). Besides, population movement tends to happen naturally through rising land or resource costs in the most attractive places compared to income potential.

Ultimately, even those who love the idea of "command economies" realize they don't really work because there's too many variables you can't control. You can put in policies at the state level that try to redirect growth, but at the end of the day land use decisions are best done locally, where the key issues are best understood. But local politicians are always driven by short-term economic growth, which leads to greater revenue and public services, which results in re-election. And they'd rather have that growth happen in their city than the neighboring one, because then the money flows to them, not their neighbor. It's the rare successful politician that is driven by a long-term vision, mainly because their constituents are mostly concerned about short-term things, like cheap groceries, safe streets, a roof over their head, and clean water coming out of the tap.

But resources, as you allude to, are finite, and they are not evenly distributed. But to many, that's a problem for the next generation.

And then there's this. Even if it were possible to move people around, and direct growth, you run into the biggest puzzle of all, and that's that in the big picture, unchecked population growth on a global scale is at the heart of most problems we have. It's one planet, finite resources, too many people.
 
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Dworwood

Well-Known Member
That’s the problem, there is no fight to be had.
I sometimes feel like Dungee does on this issue but I also know that if everyone on this site responded it would make a difference. I have seen Easterners change the way our Forrests in the West are managed because they commented when it counted and if enough comment on this they have to listen, it is the only time you can make a difference on this issue in my opinion. Do nothing and nothing will change. Let’s give em hell!
 

fastarget

Well-Known Member
But resources, as you allude to, are finite, and they are not evenly distributed. But to many, that's a problem for the next generation.

And then there's this. Even if it were possible to move people around, and direct growth, you run into the biggest puzzle of all, and that's that in the big picture, unchecked population growth on a global scale is at the heart of most problems we have. It's one planet, finite resources, too many people.
Fabulous discussion. I agree that there are multiple complex parameters, and no one would be moved out, just a moratorium on growth in order to preserve the quality of life and our environment. Just think how it will go in years of drought(we just had a great year but no guarantees), ........water rationing, a requirement to xeriscape, banning of car washes, banning of private pools, dried up or very costly golf courses, etc etc. Some of these actions were placed into effect not long ago in some parts of the southwest, but one good year and we forgot all about that.

In Utah, 1.4 billion for a pipeline to keep a desert area growing, and this pipeline could go dry as well with repeated years of drought. Most Utah tax payers dont know where the billion will go to. Yes, we do have an endless number of politicians willing to tear down dams, dry up lakes, and solve all our problems in their immediacy, and let our children deal with debt and drought. i understand freedoms, but it is really all about $$$. Lets conserve, and lets come up with real solutions, including a “no vacancy ” sign. it wont happen now, but in 20 to 30 years it could.

go for it Birdsnest.
 

Dave I.

Well-Known Member
I thought they were trying to stop the transfer of mussels and here they want to build an autobahn with a direct drive to St. George for them. Sure, the pumping stations will kill the majority of them but all it takes is a handful of spores to get thru.

Unless they build a heating station too to kill them all with the 170 degree water. Even then, all it would take is that to break down for a day and waiting for parts.

It's sad that they have made it to Powell and it's even worse that they are doing this pipeline and willing to spreading them. All in the name of "Development". SMH

I would find it interesting to see what the annual cost is for Las Vegas to filter out the mussels before the water makes it to the treatment plant.
 
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Pegasus

Well-Known Member
I thought they were trying to stop the transfer of mussels and here they want to build an autobahn with a direct drive to St. George for them. Sure, the pumping stations will kill the majority of them but all it takes is a handful of spores to get thru.

Unless they build a heating station too to kill them all with the 170 degree water. Even then, all it would take is that to break down for a day and waiting for parts.

It's sad that they have made it to Powell and it's even worse that they are doing this pipeline and willing to spreading them. All in the name of "Development". SMH

I would find it interesting to see what the annual cost is for Las Vegas to filter out the mussels before the water makes it to the treatment plant.
My understanding is that they are installing huge UV light systems on the Glen Canyon dam generators/intakes to keep the turbines mussel free (I have not heard a recent update on this in the past year so I can't vouch that the project is still in motion). I presume they will do the same at the intake for this pipeline. But as Dave and others have said, I have to laugh at the whole premise of intentionally pumping infested Lake Powell water to a non-infested lake - Sand Hollow! Sometimes you just have to say huuuummmmmm......
 

Bill Sampson

Well-Known Member
JFR all your comments are good. I hope you forward them to the correct people. When I used to bid solar projects the EIS was a very important document to read and review. All things must be considered, although money can speed up ignoring certain items of a report.
 

JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
JFR all your comments are good. I hope you forward them to the correct people. When I used to bid solar projects the EIS was a very important document to read and review. All things must be considered, although money can speed up ignoring certain items of a report.
Thanks, Bill. I already submitted them to USBR, and it’s easy to do via a link in the article posted at the top of the thread. Thanks Pegasus for bringing this to the attention of everybody...

Here’s a direct link to where you can submit comments for scoping the EIS... comment period closes on January 10.

 

LP1

Member
Who would get to decide when an area's natural resources are at full capacity and no one else is allowed in? Natural resources are piped all over the planet, should all pipelines be banned? Should those areas of the USA that do not have local natural gas or oil be only reliant on wood stoves and horses?
 

LP1

Member
Water is a commodity, just like natural gas and oil. It has a highest and best use. Should someone be able to take oil from the ground in Texas and send it New York? Of course. Then why not send water from Colorado to California? For water, often the most economically productive use is not its current use. Not rooting for the pipeline, just jotting down questions popping into the ol noggin.
 

Moe Jones

Member
I have sent in my e-mail, In Colorado we have water issues in the San luis Valley. Without getting really into this it has gotten very expensive to farm the fertile soils we have. many traditional crops are no longer grown because of it. We did fight to not have our water piped over the mountains to the front range cities whom want and need more water. I forsee this would be the issues that need to be written for the comment period. Water flows from our mountain tops down hill for usage downstream in Mexico and states far away. As long as it is not wasted and let run to the ocean use this rescource to it's fullest and remember that it goes into the ground, but still runs downhill making an increasing river rather than a declining river like the Rio Grande is in southern Colorado/ northern NM.
keep the water in the normal channels and do not augment the natural flows.
 

JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
Water is a commodity, just like natural gas and oil. It has a highest and best use. Should someone be able to take oil from the ground in Texas and send it New York? Of course. Then why not send water from Colorado to California? For water, often the most economically productive use is not its current use. Not rooting for the pipeline, just jotting down questions popping into the ol noggin.
You raise some good points about commodities. Perhaps water should be treated as a commodity similar to oil and gas, but unlike those resources, there is no alternative to water. And for that reason, the stakes have always been much higher, which led to a very complicated legal framework that differs depending on where you live in the country. In some states, it's a question of who uses the water first that determines the right. In other states, you're granted a right simply by having property next to a surface water source. And in some states its a combination of these two. And then there's the question of groundwater, which generally speaking is available to anyone with the ability to sink a well. That is, until someone else's well runs dry, at which point there's sometimes a lawsuit and a judge decides who gets what and how much, hopefully based on some sound engineering. So it's complicated.

In the case of the Colorado River system, it's an entirely unique set of rules, collectively known as the Law of the River. Actually it's not just one law, but a series of actions that were implemented mostly from 1922-74, although amendments to some of these have occurred in this century--some are congressional acts, others the result of interstate negotiations, and others based on case law--that determine who gets to use the water and how much. It's extremely hard to untangle these, but those are the rules.

In the 1960s, there was an ambitious concept that actually got some traction called NAWAPA--the North American Water and Power Alliance--which was an idea to create a system of giant canals, pipelines and dams that would have moved water all over the continent, mostly from the Canadian Rockies south. It died under the weight of cost and likely huge environmental impacts, but I mention it to say it was a serious idea at one time, and it's something that some bring up even today.


As for determining when a resource is at full capacity, that is as much an art as a science, which means it's impossible to get any real agreement on that issue. Through hydrologic studies, a groundwater basin can be shown to be in overdraft, or a watershed can be shown to subject to greater demand than supply, but how do you tell someone who has relied on that "overused" resource that they can't use it anymore, especially when they see water flowing from the kitchen tap?

That's why whiskey's for drinking and water's for fighting...

So at some point, alternative approaches that at one time were dismissed as uneconomical--such as desalination--or seen as technically infeasible--such as recycling wastewater--are going to be an increasingly large part of managing the resource in the future. I hesitate to call these a "solution", because as long as global population continues to rise unchecked, we are ignoring the elephant in the room...
 
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