The Kane County Water Conservancy District is asking for $10,000,000 in state funds to construct a new dam and reservoir on the East Fork of the Virgin River upstream from Zion National Park. Dam proponents are seeking to use this funding as a match for up to $40,000,000 from the Natural Resource Conservation Service to build it, purportedly for agricultural purposes. But is this really the purpose, and is there a need for this project?
The permitting is a year behind schedule as evidenced by major delays in the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. NRCS has asked the District to resubmit its application due to serious questions about its financial viability. The request for taxpayer funds is premature.
- It is unclear whether this project will support agriculture or if it’s a veiled attempt to grow real estate development in Washington County, raising questions about federal grant eligibility.
- This project would harm senior water rights downstream and may not stand legal scrutiny.
- There are serious questions about the applicability of the project, considering water scarcity on the Colorado River. The damming and use of the Virgin jeopardizes the State of Nevada, endangered species, and Southern Utah’s agricultural community.
- This dam would impede flows through Zion National Park and impact recreational and scenic values of a beloved site visited by millions of tourists annually.