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Health, Science & Environment

Iron County water project is under review, draws ire of neighbors

Pine Valley meeting
Lexi Peery
/
KUER
Iron County officials held a public meeting in December to discuss the future of water in the area, including the Pine Valley Water Supply Project.

Iron County is looking to pipe water from aquifers to the north for its growing population, but neighboring counties strongly oppose the move.

The proposed plan is called the Pine Valley Water Supply Project. It’ll involve a series of wells, a 70-mile pipeline and other infrastructure northwest of Cedar City, in Beaver County. Beaver Commission Chair Mark Whitney said the project will impact his county and the entire Great Basin region.

“[Iron County] needs to conserve water if they want to grow like they're growing,” Whitney said, “not come to a sister county and steal it and then stick a straw on the ground and potentially dry up that aquifer and a lot of neighboring aquifers.”

The project is expected to cost around $260 million. Kyle Roerink, the executive director of Great Basin Water Network, said that the price tag is concerning and it will hurt local taxpayers.

“Whether you're a conservationist … or whether you're someone who is fiscally conservative, you should be concerned about this project,” Roerink said. “[Also] if you're the type of person who doesn't want to harm his or her neighbors.”

The water legally belongs to Iron County — they secured the rights after a lengthy legal battle. Paul Monroe, general manager with the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, said what they’re doing isn’t unusual.

“It's part of water in the West,” Monroe said. “There's always been a long-standing development of water that's brought water to where the people and the populations are.”

As for the cost of the project, Monroe said the increase is “really not that significant” for residents. He estimated rates will go up around $50 a month. A recent report from the district analyzed various scenarios for rate increases, and some show residents paying more than $300 dollars a month by 2040.

The Pine Valley project draft environmental impact statement was released Friday and it’s open for public comment until Feb. 22.

Updated: January 11, 2022 at 3:50 PM MST
This story has been updated to include data from a June 2020 Central Iron County Water Conservancy District report.

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