Feasibility of the Lake Powell Pipeline: Development Act and Proposed Water Conservation Alternatives

Kyle Criddle


In 2006, after four years of drought, the Utah Legislature was tasked with addressing the increasingly limited water supplies throughout the state. At first, state agencies decided the construction of a pipeline from Lake Powell to Washington and Kane counties would meet the water needs of a growing population in southwestern Utah. However appealing the solution first appeared on paper, many in the academic and scientific community are now skeptical of the feasibility of the project as well as its economic and ecological impacts. In addition, alternative measures to meet future water needs are numerous, inexpensive, and feasible, which calls the proposed policy into question—especially in a scally conservative state such as Utah. Using current data projections, legislative audits, and a range of reports, this paper aims to determine the economic and ecological feasibility of the Lake Powell Pipeline Project. Furthermore, this paper will review the strengths and weaknesses of three alternative policies: instream flows, rainwater harvesting, and agricultural water conversion. Based on a comparison of these various policies, this paper will then conclude with suggestions for the best outcome for the state of Utah. 

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