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Utah public comment period closes for Lake Powell Pipeline

January 17, 2020 GMT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — More than 1,100 public comments were submitted for the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline designed to pump water to two southern Utah counties, program officials said.

The proposed 140-mile (225-kilometer) road is estimated to cost between $1 billion to $1.7 billion, The Spectrum reported.

The cost of the project that would pump water to Washington and Kane counties would be repaid over 50 years, officials said.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials will consider all the comments before releasing a draft environmental impact statement, department officials said.

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The draft is the first step in the year-long National Environmental Policy Act, officials said.

About 85% of the comments were in the form of letters usually written by a larger organization and signed by individuals, officials said.

Critics call the pipeline an unnecessary use of funds and encourage better water use.

Water rights for the river are up in the air with climate change affecting the river’s flow, critics said.

The public comment period for the proposal opened at the same time comments were submitted for a proposal to build a highway through a protected desert tortoise habitat in a nearby region, officials said.

That proposal received more than 16,000 comments.

After the department releases the draft impact statement, a new public comment period will open, officials said.

A decision is expected by 2021.