Luke Runyon on the West’s three great zombie water projects

Luke Runyon published a nice piece earlier this week on setbacks to three of the Colorado River Basin’s three great zombie water projects:

2020 has been a tough year for some of the Colorado River basin’s long-planned, most controversial water projects.

Proposals to divert water in New Mexico, Nevada and Utah have run up against significant legal, financial and political roadblocks this year. But while environmental groups have cheered the setbacks, it’s still unclear whether these projects have truly hit dead ends or are simply waiting in the wings.

All three projects – a new diversion on the Gila in New Mexico, Utah’s Lake Powell Pipeline, and the Las Vegas rural groundwater project – have looked to me as if they’ve been dead for a long time. They all provide super expensive water for communities that don’t really seem to need it.

Pretending you’re still pursuing them while never actually building them avoids the political liability of killing them while also avoiding the actual staggering cost of building them.

Las Vegas and New Mexico seemed this year close to actually killing their zombies, but as Luke points out they’re not quite dead yet.

The Lake Powell Pipeline seems most likely to prove my zombie project prognostication wrong.

One Comment

  1. I hope that the Lake Powell Pipeline does not prove Mr. Runyon’s prognostication wrong! Recent objection by the other six basin states to this project by asking that the DOI slow the approval process followed by Utah’s request to support that slow down make me feel better about this. Having fought this project for fourteen years and being an on-the-ground witness as a resident of Washington County (the LPP’s potential beneficiary) to the absurdity of it, this needs to be put to rest. Washington County which uses over 300 gallons per capita per day and never met a golf course it didn’t love needs to learn how to live within its means not seek more. A 2005 presentation by Utah’s Division of Water Rights acknowledged that the state’s Upper Colorado River Basin allocation is over-allocated and that includes the LPP water right. One year later, 2006, the Utah Legislature passed the Lake Powell Pipeline Development Act. Go figure! Now, with the 2007 Interim Guidelines under review for a 2026 decision hopefully saner heads will prevail.

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