BAKER, NV –– Tomorrow, federal officials will release a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for a quarter-billion-dollar water project in Iron County that will impose a major cost burden on local residents, harm the environment and jeopardize the region’s water future – from the West Desert to the Great Salt Lake.
The project, known as the Pine Valley Water Supply Project, will increase water rates by more than 700 percent for some residents, according to the project proponent, the Central Iron County Water District. The burden of those rates is also felt in conjunction with property tax rates in Iron County that subsidize the true cost of water. The Pine Valley project is the first of a 3-phase proposal that intends to target Pine, Wah Wah and Hamlin Valleys along the Nevada-Utah border.
Phase One of the pumping and piping project –– which is likely to exceed the $240 million estimate –– will be paid for by taxing residents and increasing monthly water bills. The cost of the project is around 60 times greater than the water district’s annual budget, half of which comes from property tax collections in the County. Phase Two of the project will double the price tag.
The current cost of water imposed via taxes and rates allows Iron County officials to hide the real price of water. If property taxes weren’t subsidizing existing water rates, the effect of the new project would be even greater on Iron County residents. Iron County, while experiencing aquifer drawdown, has no meaningful conservation programs like turf removal or enforcement for time-of-day and day-of-use watering schedules.
The best thing for Iron County to do is stop subsidizing its water with taxes and invest in conservation like turf removal. Demand will decrease, water availability will increase, and the need for the pipeline will dissipate.
“This project will be a disaster for ratepayers and taxpayers in Iron County and will drain important valleys for Beaver County’s economy, wildlife and future,” said Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney. “The water CICWCD wants doesn’t exist now and it won’t exist in the future.”
“Cedar City’s ratepayers better brace themselves for what’s coming: rate increases and tax increases,” said Dean Draper, Millard County Commissioner. “How can a water agency with such a small annual budget afford a project that costs hundreds of millions? All the while, this project will take water away from Millard County. There is nothing fiscally sound about this effort.”
“How will CICWCD pay for this project: by bilking local taxpayers and ratepayers,” said Kyle Roerink, Executive Director of the Great Basin Water Network. “Community members need to know that this project will be felt in their pocketbooks. It’s time Iron County get conservative. This project won’t deliver in the long run for taxpayers and water users.”
Starting tomorrow, the public will have the opportunity to comment on the application by CICWCD, which is paying the Bureau of Land Management to conduct the environmental review. Visit https://eplanning.blm.gov/