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Compact. However, as with all the Upper Basin states, the state is also limited by the safe yield of the river. “As for full development for Utah,

we use about 75 percent right now of our allocation [of 1.4 million acre-feet],” said Eric Millis, director of the state’s Division of Water Resources, referring to the 2007 Hydrologic Determination for the Upper Basin under which Utah is entitled to 1.369 million acre-feet. (Based on the division in the Com- pact of 7.5 million acre-feet, Utah’s share of the river would be approximately 1.714 million acre-feet.) Pending water rights settlements with

the Navajo and Ute tribes “would take up about half of what we have left,” he said. Despite not using its full allocation,

Millis said there is incentive for Utahans to conserve water. “We have felt like in Utah we

are ahead of the game in most cases although this drought is really push- ing us harder,” he said. “We need to be conserving, we need to be making improvements in agricultural irrigation to help improve efficiencies there and on

the municipal and industrial side, which is a big push here in the state because we have this rapidly growing population.” An ambitious proposal aims for the first time to bring water from Lake Powell to the St. George area through a 139-mile, 69-inch buried pipeline. Te $1.4 billion project would be paid by the state and reimbursed by Washington and Kane counties. Washington County is one of Utah’s fastest growing counties and St. George, the county seat, is the fourth fastest growing city in the United States, according to the Washington County Water Conservancy District (WCD).

Te pipeline, scheduled for comple- tion in 2026, would deliver 86,249 acre-feet of water at full capacity: 82,249 acre-feet to Washington County and 4,000 acre-feet to Kane County. Te water diverted into the pipeline would represent about 6 percent of Utah’s Upper Colorado River Compact alloca- tion. Washington County currently uses 60,000 acre-feet of water a year. Millis called the pipeline a “viable

project” but it has its critics. In a Sept. 12, 2016 letter to Utah Gov. Gary

Herbert, more than a dozen professors from the University of Utah’s economics department warned of “significant water rate and impact fee increases” based on the water district’s payment model. Te economic experts called for “a

comprehensive analysis of southwest Utah’s water needs, including not only more sophisticated economic analysis but also geographical study of changing land use patterns, demographic model- ing and its implications for real estate development, close study of future water use in agriculture, and reconsideration of using property taxes to partially fund water districts.” In response, Washington County

WCD General Manger Ron Tompson wrote that while per capita water use “will continue to decrease … we must be realistic about water use in our planning efforts,” and that an acceptable finance plan for the pipeline will be developed. Opponents of the pipeline believe

growth in the St. George region can be supported through increased water use efficiency and improved water manage- ment. In a February 2016 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commis- sion, the conservation group Western Resource Advocates said Washington County WCD should produce an

Te St. George skyline. Under study is a proposal that aims for the first time to bring water from Lake Powell to the St. George area through a 139-mile, 69-inch buried pipeline.

Winter 2016-2017 • River Report • Colorado River Project • 5

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