Editorial: Lake Powell Pipeline project needs better assessment

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There have been increasing concerns in Utah about the proposed Lake Powell pipeline project which will also include hydropower projects. Although the project is primarily a water supply project, FERC has been charged to conduct the environmental analysis due to the proposal for power production. A recent editorial on Salt Lake Tribune questions the adequacy of the study to be performed by FERC claiming that FERC does not have the capacity to assess the geological, aquatic, aesthetic and economic aspects of the proposed project. With FERC being the lead agency for the project, other agencies including the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service will have to base their recommendations and decision based on FERC's study. While this ambitious project claims to address water needs of growing southern Utah, a recent study by UC San Diego scientists warns that Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the two major sources of water for southwestern United States could go dry by 2021.The proposal seeks to build a 158-mile-long, 66-inch-diameter pipeline from Lake Powell to a reservoir in Washington County, and a separate 38-mile-long, 30-inch pipeline from Washington County to Iron County at an initial estimated cost of $842 million, which is expected to grow over time.