• Friends: Please double-check the email address you have on file. Make sure that it is current and able to receive email. When our emails are rejected it can damage our ratings and slow down future deliveries.
    Thanks!

Speaking of Water. .

Blackjack

Member
Here is link to an interesting article re: management of Colorado River basin water and Utah’s latest “approach” to managing future allocation.
 

lakepowellnut

Well-Known Member
Interesting article, indeed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear all the facts are presented in the article. My understanding from other reports is Utah hasn’t represented itself well in the past and that’s what they’re trying to do with this legislation. Just because they’re late to the game doesn’t mean they shouldn’t stand up for their rights to their shares. It’ll be interesting to see how Utah responds to conservation efforts. Powell needs to be preserved for everyone’s benefit.
 

JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
Thanks for posting. Interesting stuff, and though oversimplified, a good preview of one of the many battles ahead over water. But the line I keep coming back to is this one:

“An acre-foot is enough to serve one to two average households per year.”

That might be true in Utah, but for many of the other basin states (notably CA), that statement is false—it’s more like three or four households per acre foot. That means if all Utah did was step up its conservation approach to match some of its partner states, it could make its existing water supplies go twice as far. As noted in other threads on this forum, that approach alone would eliminate the purported “need” for the pipeline to St. George.

But of course Utah sees this differently. It’s a power play for an upper hand in negotiations with the other states. That’s all well and good, except for it’s in no one’s long-term interest (not even theirs) to do that. Let’s say they “win” and stake out a relatively larger share of non-existent water. The long term effect will be to encourage more movement to Utah, more ag use, and thus greater pressure not only on water supply, but other resources and services in a state not built to handle it.
 
Last edited:

Gem Morris

Well-Known Member
Here's one for you JFR (I'm being approximately 1/2 serious with this post):

140 miles of pipeline (the length of the pipe necessary to divert water to St. George) could divert water from the Snake River in Idaho to the Green River in Wyoming. (see map below).

This would be uphill, but there's some water pumps on the west shore of the Great Salt Lake installed (and sitting idle now) by then Governor Norm Bangerter. The State of Utah spends $1M per year to maintain them in case they're ever needed again. Surely they could be put to use by moving them to strategic locations? I'm no engineer.

That doesn't solve St. George's problem but would solve (or go a LONG way) to solving the 7 Colorado River States problem. Then there wouldn't be such a fight over the existing water.

Who has water rights on water that free flows into the Pacific Ocean? The Colombia River volume is massive (Snake joins the Colombia) compared to the Colorado River. And either way it would be going to the Pacific Ocean.

Not that you don't have anything to do but poke holes in that plan when you have a minute.
 

Attachments

  • smaller 140.png
    smaller 140.png
    493.8 KB · Views: 28

Gem Morris

Well-Known Member
P.S. Fontanelle Reservoir in Wyoming is almost exactly 2,000 higher in elevation than Pocatello, Idaho

Quail Creek Reservoir (terminus of St. George pipline) is 3,300' compared to Lake Powell's 3,700' (at full pool). Slightly downhill (and therefore able to use the siphon effect to go over any terrain negating the use of pumps)?
 

JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
Here's one for you JFR (I'm being approximately 1/2 serious with this post):

140 miles of pipeline (the length of the pipe necessary to divert water to St. George) could divert water from the Snake River in Idaho to the Green River in Wyoming. (see map below).

This would be uphill, but there's some water pumps on the west shore of the Great Salt Lake installed (and sitting idle now) by then Governor Norm Bangerter. The State of Utah spends $1M per year to maintain them in case they're ever needed again. Surely they could be put to use by moving them to strategic locations? I'm no engineer.

That doesn't solve St. George's problem but would solve (or go a LONG way) to solving the 7 Colorado River States problem. Then there wouldn't be such a fight over the existing water.

Who has water rights on water that free flows into the Pacific Ocean? The Colombia River volume is massive (Snake joins the Colombia) compared to the Colorado River. And either way it would be going to the Pacific Ocean.

Not that you don't have anything to do but poke holes in that plan when you have a minute.
Not that I don't have anything else to do, but my only other option right now is to do work, which at the moment is to resolve a dispute between a housing developer and the city of San Luis Obispo about how large their units can be. Less interesting than this thread.

Yours is an interesting idea, and worth talking through. It's a little like a mini-version of a piece of the old NAWAPA concept from the 1950s and early 60s. Not that I'm a fan of NAWAPA, but I admire the jaw-dropping vision behind it.

From a legal standpoint, inter-basin transfers happen all the time, and some huge ones at that. Just off the top of my head, there's the LA Aqueduct from Owens Valley, or the State Water Project (SWP) that sends water all over CA from the northern Sierra. I live near a town in the central CA coast region (Paso Robles) that gets some of its water from hundreds of miles away via the SWP, many sub-basins away. Even the proposed St. George pipeline is a semi-inter-basin transfer, even though it's still in the Colorado River watershed, but the Virgin drains into the lower basin, which has its own legal issues. It's kind of an inter-basin transfer between upper and lower basin, which is one of its many problems. But I digress.

Yes, your idea has legal precedent. But many thorny thickets to cross.

Then there's the engineering side of things. Sure, it's 140 miles in a direct line, but the pipeline will follow topography and be a lot more circuitous as a result, so add 50% or more to the length. Then it's taking water from the Snake (at 4400 feet) and transferring it to the upper Green (at 6500 feet more or less), but really to get there it has to be pumped over a mountain range where the low spot is near 8000 feet. Or tunnel through somehow. I have engineer friends who always tell me anything can be done for a cost. Which in this case would be gigantic. But let's say it could be done.

Then there's the cost. Hard to speculate, but let's just say this is no St. George pipeline. And who would pay the cost? Which states? The feds? Developers? Ranchers and growers? It's a question of who benefits and a proportionate fair share... and good luck resolving that question. Or raising the money.

Then there's land acquisition. Another difficult challenge to put it mildly.

And energy use. How much energy would it take to build and operate those new facilities? Especially pumping all that water? And where would the energy come from?

Then there's environmental review, which is probably the most straightforward and understandable process, but a lengthy and costly one, with multiple challenges and issues to resolve.

Then there's water rights. True enough--it all goes to the Pacific whether the Columbia, Snake, Green or Colorado, but while on land, the water rights differ by state and basin, and untangling those is like untangling my extension cords. But yes, there's a lot of water in the Columbia basin, something on the order of 20 times the volume of the Colorado River basin, so perhaps not insurmountable in theory.

And then there's all that new water that would be dumped into the Colorado/Green River basin. Whose water is it? It's "found" water, not covered under any existing agreement. Can those states agree? Can hungry cats peacefully resolve a fight over a fresh tuna that landed on the doorstep?

But let's say you could resolve all of that, you might be onto something. The main obstacle boils down to a strong human desire to maintain the status quo, and that political will is only as strong as what it takes to win the next election, which means for most in charge of such decisions, there's a strong desire to talk a lot but do little until crisis hits. That's the way of things here, there, everywhere, yesterday, today, tomorrow and always. But maybe we're at the crisis point soon.

So yes, let's talk about that idea. I'd like to hear more. Thanks for bringing it up...
 
Last edited:

nzaugg

Well-Known Member
P.S. Fontanelle Reservoir in Wyoming is almost exactly 2,000 higher in elevation than Pocatello, Idaho

Quail Creek Reservoir (terminus of St. George pipline) is 3,300' compared to Lake Powell's 3,700' (at full pool). Slightly downhill (and therefore able to use the siphon effect to go over any terrain negating the use of pumps)?
There are 5 massive pump stations planned for the Lake Powell pipeline. 5. Five. They are all very large. They are very remote and will require massive amounts of power. They can't use the siphon effect because the head loss of the pipe is far too high to make that work and the pressure at the bottom of the pipe would be far to large to pump in a single shot. There was talk of adding power generation on the pipeline as is comes back down to St. George, which was why FERC was to be the permitting authority, but that is now a relatively minor part of the pipeline project.
 

CA2UT

New Member
Then there's water rights. True enough--it all goes to the Pacific whether the Columbia, Snake, Green or Colorado, but while on land, the water rights differ by state and basin, and untangling those is like untangling my extension cords. But yes, there's a lot of water in the Columbia basin, something on the order of 20 times the volume of the Colorado River basin, so perhaps not insurmountable in theory.



So yes, let's talk about that idea. I'd like to hear more. Thanks for bringing it up...
I think its going to be a tough sell given the extreme growth of the Greater Boise region (treasure valley).
 

Gem Morris

Well-Known Member
So...help me understand. (I’m playing the devils advocate here).

Where the Snake River joins the Columbia the river channel is dry?
 

Ziggy

Well-Known Member
So...help me understand. (I’m playing the devils advocate here).

Where the Snake River joins the Columbia the river channel is dry?
Heck no it's not dry, the Snake does not flow the volume of the Columbia but it's no where near dry where it joins the Columbia.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Dorado

Well-Known Member
It is not dry, but it is frequently low and too warm for fish. The lower snake River dams basically let out the bare legal minimum once irrigation seasons end. The warm water they do let out is a barrier to salmon and steelhead returning to spawn. There are multi-billion dollar efforts to prevent these fish from becoming extinct. To be blunt, they are rivers, not irrigation channels or pipelines.
 

Ziggy

Well-Known Member
It is not dry, but it is frequently low and too warm for fish. The lower snake River dams basically let out the bare legal minimum once irrigation seasons end. The warm water they do let out is a barrier to salmon and steelhead returning to spawn. There are multi-billion dollar efforts to prevent these fish from becoming extinct. To be blunt, they are rivers, not irrigation channels or pipelines.
Well I didn't realize that Dorado, is this a newer issue? I used to fish the Snake near Homedale but, that was back in the early 90's. I know that the Salmon and Steelhead returns are not what they used to be back when I was a lot younger.
 

Gem Morris

Well-Known Member
It is not dry, but it is frequently low and too warm for fish. The lower snake River dams basically let out the bare legal minimum once irrigation seasons end. The warm water they do let out is a barrier to salmon and steelhead returning to spawn. There are multi-billion dollar efforts to prevent these fish from becoming extinct. To be blunt, they are rivers, not irrigation channels or pipelines.
Okay - back to the drawing board! 😀
 

jayfromtexas

Well-Known Member
As Dorado points out the Snake as it flows across the snake river plain of Idaho is mostly dry. If you go to Milner Dam near Burley the entire river disappears down irrigation canals and what little is left is seepage. Interestingly enough as you move downstream runoff and seepage from said canals actually runs back into the river itself. So no, even though Milner Dam diverts most of the Snake river flow, the Snake is most definitely not dry by the time it reaches the Columbia. Also several major tributaries such as the Salmon, Clearwater, Boise and Owyhee replenish it as well.
 
Top