St. George continues to grow as water officials try to keep up

Local News

ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – The Washington County Water Conservancy District is undergoing several projects to keep up with growth.

“Certain projects, we kind of assumed that we wouldn’t need for a while, like certain water tanks more specifically and the expansion of the water treatment plant, but because of the growth going on we’re having to expedite how fast we bring those projects on now,” says Zachary Renstrom, the general manager for the Washington County Water Conservancy District.

Currently, the county’s only water supply is the Virgin River, and as of June, water levels were the lowest ever recorded.

“Mid July, there was a switch and we got these wonderful monsoonal rains so we received twice the amount of monsoonal rains, as average and that had a significant impact on the Virgin River,” says Renstrom.

This is why Renstrom says they need the Lake Powell Pipeline, which is in the environmental review process.

“it gives us a more reliable water system and it’s going to assure we have water we need as our community and economy grows,” he says.

But Lake Powell’s water levels are 50 feet lower than last year. Renstrom says despite the declining levels, the state is entitled to a water budget, designated to assist the county.

“Utah is going to use that budget and if we don’t use it on the Lake Powell Pipeline, then we’re going to use that somewhere in the state, we’re going to actually run more models to see the extremes on what could possibly happen,” he says.

Just this year, 1,167 total building permits have been issued in St. George. In Washington, 928 building permits have been issued in the last 12 months, the highest number in the city’s history, according to city leaders. On average, it takes about 300,000 gallons of water to build one house.

“I’ve met with the majority of city councils in the county and they’ve all been very positive about maybe adopting best practices or modifying their existing landscape ordinances to adopt these new water-wise ideas,” says Renstrom.

Renstrom says there is currently enough water to keep up with the growth, as long as they continue adding water projects like reservoirs and water tanks.

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