Change is the one constant, especially in the municipal water world. Managers and their respective water agencies must correctly plan for changes in supply and demand caused by population growth, all while maintaining safe and reliable drinking water. This issue of Municipal Water Leader examines efforts in Utah to meet the water needs of state’s population, which is expected to double by 2060. “Protect what we have, use it wisely, and provide for the future” is the motto of the four largest water conservancy districts in Utah, as they work together to prepare a Statewide Water Infrastructure Plan. Mr. Ron Thompson, general manager of Washington County Water Conservancy District and incoming president of the National Water Resources Association, exemplifies this philosophy. “Our role is to plan, conserve, and provide water for the community in response to the growth that’s dictated and managed by our elected officials. This is best accomplished through a proactive, collaborate approach.”
One major planned water infrastructure project to meet Utah’s projected population growth demands is the Lake Powell Pipeline. With an estimated cost of $1.4 billion, this 139-mile, 69-inch pipeline will deliver up to 86,249 acre-feet of Colorado River water from Lake Powell to Washington County. The statewide plan, developed by the four major water conservancy districts working with the 11 major river basins that constitute the state of Utah, has been named Prepare60. The estimated costs of the needed water infrastructure identified by the Prepare60 plan is $33 billion.
When asked in his interview what his message to Congress is, Mr. Thompson said, “My primary message is that the economy of this country is dependent on safe and reliable water supplies. We can talk about roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, but none of that will matter if we do not maintain our water infrastructure systems.”
Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader and Irrigation Leader magazines. He is also president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations, marketing, and publishing company he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at Kris.Polly@wateretrategies.com