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Lake Powell Pipeline Route Runs Through Sacred Land, Says Southern Paiute Tribe

Photo of a dam stopping water between red rock cliffs / sjgh
Draft plans for the Lake Powell Pipeline would run the pipeline through the Kaibab Indian Reservation and along its southern border.

Draft plans for the Lake Powell Pipeline have the project running through sacred and culturally significant lands to the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians.

The pipeline, which is currently under public review, has two proposed routes — one that runs through the Kaibab Indian Reservation and one that runs along its southern border. The Kaibab Tribe opposes both of these routes, according to a document fromthe tribe in the project’s draft environmental impact statement.

Proponents of the pipeline prefer the southern route, which bypasses the reservation. 

Chairwoman of the tribal council, Ona Segundo, said that doesn’t mean the tribe’s lands wouldn’t be disturbed. The tribe opposes the project as a whole, she said, but would prefer the highway route that follows Arizona State Route 389.

However, she said they and the project proponents can’t reach “common ground” about where the pipeline will go and she feels as though their concerns aren’t being considered.

“I’ve honestly felt that they’re just dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s to make sure that they consulted with the tribe,” Segundo said. “It seems like they already have the route planned out.”

Brock Belnap is the assistant general manager of the pipeline and said they’re working to minimize the impact of the project in the area.

“We realize that the pipeline crosses through lands they consider significant and we intend to be as sensitive as we can and work as cooperatively as we can with them to protect it,” Belnap said.

He added that it would be buried and run along existing utility corridors. 

Segundo said she and the Kaibab Tribe will continue to fight against the pipeline.

“Yes, the people in Washington County and that area are in need of that water, however, they also need to realize that the Kaibab Paiute Tribe are here,” she said. “We’ve been here for millenia and we will continue to be here. We feel it is our duty to protect this area.”

The Bureau of Reclamation held the first of two virtual public hearings about the proposed project on Wednesday night. The second one is Thursday at 6 p.m.

Lexi Peery is a Report for America corps member who reports from KUER's Southwest Bureau in St. George. Follow Lexi on Twitter @LexiFP

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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