ST. GEORGE, Utah — Federal regulators are asking Utah officials to show they’d be able to pay for a contentious proposed billion-dollar Lake Powell pipeline to draw water to southwestern Utah’s growing Washington County.
The state submitted its application for the project in March 2016 and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has periodically asked for additional information. But the regulators request on Aug. 11 called for the state to provide a cost estimate and financing plan within 60 days.
Water managers believe the water would be needed sometime before 2030 to keep up with population growth and new development. The proposed line is a 140-mile (225-kilometer) project that would run from the reservoir to Washington and Kane counties.
Utah Division of Water Resources spokesman Joshua Palmer said he expects the state to respond within the 60-day timeframe but did not know what would be included in that response.
“Right now, we’re in the process of evaluating the additional information request, assessing what direction we need to go,” he said.
The regulator’s request was not specific about the criteria they want the cost estimate and financing plan to include.
John Fridell, the project manager with the Washington County Water Conservancy District, said he didn’t think the request constituted anything the state or districts wouldn’t be able to provide.
Opponents of the pipeline argue the relatively small communities of Washington and Kane counties aren’t equipped to fund such a large project, arguing that taxpayers across the rest of the state would need to cover the costs.