Financial Consequences are Monumental for Future Generations of Utahns!
In a closed, hush-hush process, over several years, the state is now planning AND collecting money to build the horrendous Lake Powell Pipeline boondoggle (and its sister monstrosity up north the Bear River Diversion). It will cost taxpayers billions.
There has never been an open public hearing--because the powers-that-be do not want to open up to the facts. If they do, the people of Utah will be outraged. I will keep you up to date.
A group of 21 Utah economists warned state leaders that the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline will break the bank for Washington County residents and will impose impossibly burdensome water rates and impact fee increases for St. George residents that will continue for 50 years.
Two years ago, economists from three Utah universities say repayment costs for the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline would be way out of reach for water users in Washington County. Twenty-two economists question whether Washington County can really afford to repay more than $1 billion dollars in loans to build the massive water project.
“The answer’s ‘yes’,” says University of Utah economist Gabriel Lozada, one of those who signed the letter. “The costs could be paid back. But the implications for water rates and for impact fees would be quite dramatic.”
The letter summarizes an analysis that found every Washington County man, woman and child would owe up to $781 dollars annually over 50 years to repay the state loan. And new building impact fees could top $14,000. U of U economist Gail Blattenberger says supporters aren’t properly counting the costs to state taxpayers either. “There’s a lot of camouflage about what things are going to cost,” she says, “and I think if we’re making big financial decisions like this, we should make them honestly.”
The Utah Division of Water Resources delivered the pipeline license application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by December 1.
“The water district’s total revenues are significantly less than the annual debt payments needed for the Lake Powell Pipeline,” said Gabriel Lozada, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Utah, “Unless the Washington County Water District raises revenues considerably, Utah taxpayers will not be repaid for the costs of building the project.”
The economists wrote a 42-page analysis conducted over the last year by looking at a range of construction and financing scenarios to repay the $1.4 – 1.8 billion pipeline. They determined Washington County residents will have to pay between $61.8 and $131 million of pipeline debt annually for 50 years.
“The only options Washington County has to raise necessary revenues to service the debt of the Lake Powell Pipeline are massive increases in water prices and/or impact fees. The huge increases in prices and/or impact fees will reflect back on Washington County’s economy, affecting its growth and demand for water,” said Gail Blattenberger, Associate Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Utah, who helped conduct the lengthy analysis.
The analysis documented cheaper sources of water which pipeline advocates are ignoring, as confirmed in the 2015 Legislative Audit of the Utah Division of Water Resources. These include the ability for St. George to expand their water supply without the assistance of the Washington County Water District, eliminating the property tax subsidies for water that encourage waste, and converting water formerly used by agriculture to municipal uses as well as more aggressive water conservation programs.