Local News

Stilo And Tusayan Working Behind the Scenes To Divert Colorado River Water

August 28, 2018

Italian developer Stilo and the Town of Tusayan are seeking federal support for the Black Mesa Pipeline Project which would divert Colorado River water to facilitate Stilo’s controversial development in Tusayan. Town Manager Eric Duthie traveled to Washington DC in July to discuss the matter.

It’s described as a public-private partnership with a price tag of $137 million. It could also transport water to the Grand Canyon National Park and potentially other Arizona cities and towns. Other partners in the project include the Salt River Project. The project would take more than five years to complete. 

Plans call to repurpose an old coal slurry pipeline to transport water from the Colorado River at Laughlin to Tusayan, the Grand Canyon National Park and beyond. Stilo secured the pipeline assets in 2016 but  started working on this project in 2012.

In 2016 SRP and the Town of Tusayan joined a ‘working group’ to look into the project. As recently as last month Town Manager Eric Duthie traveled to Washington DC to discuss the project holding or attending several meetings.  Here is a link to the documents we received in a public records request which provide some additional detail.

Very little has been said recently about the project. Stilo has mentioned its plan but there has been little or any discussion at Town Council meetings.

For a year Tusayan has employed high dollar Washington lobbyists on issues related to Forest Service approval but it is possible the pipeline may be on the agenda as well.

According to the news organization Pro Publica, Tusayan has spent $180,000 with the Washington DC lobbying firm Brownstein, Farber, Hyatt, and Schreck since August of 2017. The issues covered according to the lobbying agreement include housing, utilities, and infrastructure. The entities lobbied include the Forest Service and Congress. Here is a link. The report also references former Senator Jon Kyl who, according to the Arizona Republic, was hired in 2015 to represent Stilo on the project.

The recent spending and travel indicate Tusayan is serious about letting the federal government know what its goals are, goals that happen to coincide with Stilo’s development plans.