Living within the water means we have
The proposed water pipeline from Lake Powell to Washington and Iron counties has been considered pie in the sky for many years. It is however starting to get some traction as developers and those who love the green stuff in their hands start to imagine the possibilities in the southwestern part of Utah.
For years the St. George area has been growing like crazy. Right now Washington County has between 80-90,000 people, but many experts project that the population there could grow to 350,000 by just past mid-century. Of course that growth would depend on a lot of things, one of which is enough H2O to go around.
Now some state legislators are proposing to pay for the billion plus dollars cost of the pipeline with your money, not Iron or Washington counties money. They are talking about a statewide "tax" or an increase in water rates, or the creation of a statewide "special service district" to pay for the pipeline. In other words, once again we in the other rural parts of the state would have to support some pork barrel project to help poor little St. George.
The arrogance of southwestern Utah politicians has surfaced once again.
But worse than making us pay for something that will never benefit us and only really benefit a few developers and money hoggers in southern Utah, is the precedent it will set.
For the last 90 years our county has been in a fight with Sanpete County over trans-basin water diversion. They want to build Gooseberry Dam to trap water from the drainage that naturally flows our way. They want to use that water first for agriculture, but we all know they also covet it for the fact that they are quickly becoming a bedroom community of the Wasatch Front and want it eventually for residential and industrial growth.
The battle that has raged seems to come and go, but over the years one of the main reasons the dam hasn't been built is because the funding has never really been there. Neither the state nor the feds have come up with the cash, and poor little Sanpete just doesn't have the dough either. So even if they could get everything legally in line to build it, they couldn't. But a move in the direction of building the St. George pipeline could change all this, because if it was done for one project, why couldn't it be done for another in the name of "growth."
One has to also look at the political alliances these kinds of things could attract. Do you think the Sanpete politicians and others in the state who support Gooseberry wouldn't jump on the band wagon of the St. George project if they thought the support would be reciprocal?
And worst of all, we in Carbon, with a specific state wide scenario of funding for local water projects that could be put in place, could end up paying for the very dam that would only hurt the economy of our county.
I don't like trans-basin water diversions and never have. The Central Utah Water Project made it so the Wasatch Front could learn to waste water rather than learn to conserve it. So I am against the St. George project, mainly because they have not learned how to conserve either. They use almost twice the water per person that Tuscon, Ariz. residents use, yet their weather, as hot as it is in the summer, is overall much cooler than Tuscon's.
I find it interesting that some of the biggest backers of the project are some of the most conservative politicians too. They are always telling us that the government should live within its means. Well shouldn't municipalities live within their means too, those means being water that is available to them.
If we are going to stop Las Vegas from stealing water from the agricultural users in the Snake Valley in western Utah, we had better get and keep our house in order too.
Make 'em live within their water means, or we will pay for it in many ways.