The State of Utah (Utah) wants to develop about 361,000 acre-feet of its remaining theoretical share of the Colorado River (which assumes an unrealistic higher annual river flow rate of 15 MAFY) and a portion of this (86,249 acre-feet) is allocated for the Lake Powell Pipeline (LPP). But, there are risks depending on this remaining share because it may not be present in the river system due to: increased use; reduced snowpack and streamflow from rising temperatures; over-allocation; junior priority of LPP’s water right; and unsettled Federal Reserve Water Rights claims. Utah’s Colorado River water rights are not fixed and as water availability goes down so does its allocation. Utah’s allocation is 23% of what remains after senior water rights holders are met.
It is well accepted that the laws that govern the Colorado River allocated more water annually than the river produces. This is an economic risk that Utah has ignored and is not addressed in the Lake Powell Pipeline studies. Reclamation is also ignoring the fact there is less water and selling more water that is not physically available in the system.
Utah has a theoretical annual water right to 1.4 million acre-feet of depletion from the Colorado River Compact to use (based on the assumed of a higher 15 MAFY flow rate). Depletion is a water that does not return to the Colorado River system. The balance of water that flows through the state is required to go downstream to the Lower Basin states. This allocation is based on a river flow of 15 million acre-feet yearly (MAFY). 15 million acre-feet is used in modeling and it is how much water would naturally flow through the states if there were no diversions. Studies show the Colorado River is only producing about 12.5 MAFY, which is predicted to decline due to reduced snowpack and streamflow from increasing temperatures.
CSU wrote a white paper on the risks of depending on the Colorado River for a future water supply for our county. READ MORE
More information on the LPP. READ MORE