#Utah #conservation efforts update: “…we’re still 10 years out from the [#LakePowellPipeline]” — Zachary Renstrom #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

This $2+ billion project would pump 28 billion gallons of water 2,000 feet uphill across 140 miles of desert to provide just 160,000 residents in Southwest Utah with more water. Graphic credit: Utah Rivers Council

From The St. George News (Mori Kessler):

Last month, the Utah Division of Water Resources reported that water conservation efforts have helped meet growing population needs while postponing the need for water development projects.

While state officials primarily referred to water projects in northern Utah, the southwest corner of the state has also seen its own successes with conservation efforts during an ongoing drought, according to local water officials…

The state has launched several water conservation projects in recent years that Adams gave credit to Utah’s citizens and private sectors for embracing…

State conservation efforts have included the creation of regional water conservation goals and plans, water efficiency projects, the “Slow the flow” information campaign, rebates and the metering of secondary water sources…

Local efforts

In Southern Utah, Zachary Renstrom, the general manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District, said the district has seen its own success with water conservation over the years thanks to collective efforts of the community. Much of that success, Renstrom said, has come through educating the public…

According to the latest data available from the Utah Division of Water Resources, Washington County’s per capita water use decreased 7.5% from 2010 to 2018…

Under regional water conservation goals – which includes Washington and Kane counties – the region is slated to reduce water use 14%, with 262 gallons per capita by 2030 and ultimately 22%, with 237 gallons per capita by 2065. The regional plan uses 305 gallons per capita per day as a baseline.

The water district either oversees, or is a partner in, several water conservation efforts and programs…

This includes demonstration gardens like the Red Hills Desert Garden, water-efficient landscape workshops, local media campaigns, the “Save the Towel” partnership with local hotels and spas, requiring water conservation plans from municipal customers, water-smart rebates and several other programs…

Has water conservation postponed the need for the Lake Powell Pipeline?

As with other water projects, some question whether conservation efforts in Southern Utah delayed the need for the Lake Powell Pipeline. Renstrom said they have but won’t for much longer.

“We’ve gotten to the point that we’ve conserved a big chunk of water already, and we’re still 10 years out from the pipeline,” Renstrom said. “When we start projecting 10 years out, it shows we’re going to get to a critical situation that will require us to have the Lake Powell Pipeline.”

[…]

Recently state and local water officials asked the Bureau of Reclamation to slow its timeline for the potential approval of the pipeline due to concerns raised by neighboring states that also rely on the Colorado River for water. The additional time will be used to review concerns and address them in a revised environmental study related to the project…

Drought and climate change

Pipeline aside, Renstrom said the climate is expected to become increasing dry with monsoonal rains being reduced to short-lived storms that drop large amounts of rain like the one that hit St. George in August.

“Yes, we are planning for a drier climate … and that’s one of the reasons we’re so adamant about our projects and making sure we have the resilience to withstand fluctuations in weather and the climate.”

[…]

The region has been in a drought for 16 of the last 20 years, Karry Rathje, a spokeswoman for the water district, said, adding that despite that, the county has been able to conserve water while a drying climate has gradually decreased supply…

However, both Renstrom and Rathje have said water conservation and the need for a secondary source of water for the county need to be pursued hand-in-hand in order to secure future water needs.

4 thoughts on “#Utah #conservation efforts update: “…we’re still 10 years out from the [#LakePowellPipeline]” — Zachary Renstrom #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

      • Not only the Utah situation but another transfer that comes to mind is the Cibola Valley Queen Creek proposed transfer. I believe that Tom Buschatzke’s solution is sound but without, yet another paragraph in the “law of the River”, there is still opposition. Transfers of water, with compensation, will become more frequent. A roadmap ahead of time would come in handy. As for being at the table, that is the realm of Board Members, but I will voice an opinion here and there.

      • It’s tough on you guys since river flows are dropping. I’m on the other side of the Continental Divide of the Americas from you but we have had below average streamflow year after year on the Front Range.

Leave a Reply