In 2018, the U.S. Census Bureau named St. George as the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the nation. In 2017 there were an estimated 165,662 residents to St. George, which was an increase of 4% from the previous year in 2016. While the news of the continuous growth in the community is not new to residents, different issues arise when growth occurs at a rapid pace.
A higher influx in residents leads to an increase in transportation routes, new homes and housing options, new stores and other needs for the growing community. As the area grows, developments continue to grow and expand away from the center of the city into the surrounding desert. With that growth, comes the need to supply water to the ever expanding communities.
In an article released Wednesday by The Spectrum, Mayor Jon Pike discussed his ideas on how to ensure that St. George continues to receive the amount of water that is needed for its continued growth.
The proposition for a Lake Powell Pipeline has been on the table to help ensure that 13 communities, St. George being the largest, would continue to have water in the years to come. “The 2017 population forecast, prepared by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah projects Washington County to have the largest increase in population in Utah (229 percent); exceeding 500,000 people by 2065,” state Pike.
Apart from the continued growth in residents, the number of visitors who frequent Southern Utah continue to grow. Each year St. George welcomes millions of visitors who have come to visit some of the best state parks that Utah has to offer as well as the world famous National Parks located a short distance from town.
Mayor Pike stated, “The City of St. George Water Services Department must be able to supply water to residents and visitors. Our mission is to effectively and efficiently manage and optimize the complete water cycle for the City of St. George. Our greatest concerns are providing water of high enough quality and quantity to enhance the health, environment and enjoyment of the community.”
He continued by stating that the build of the Lake Powell Pipeline would introduce a new source of high quality water into the city and its surrounding areas. According to data collected in regards to the project, it is projected that the Lake Powell Pipeline would transport approximately 82,000 acre feet of water annually from Lake Powell and deposit it into the Sand Hollow Reservoir, which is one of the city’s main water supplies.
“We must be able to provide water in the ongoing drought cycle our region experiences,” stated Pike. “Southern Utah has had 12 years of drought in the last two decades, leaving our sole source of water, the Virgin River basin, vulnerable and placing us at risk of running out of water.”
While the solution to continue to provide water to Southern Utah remains up for debate and discussion, Washington County has done much to improve the use of water in the area. From 2010 to 2015, the county was able to cut back water use by 1 billion gallons. The City of St. George, its surrounding cities as well as the Washington County Water Conservancy District invested $60 million into activities to help conserve water.
While Mayor Pike praised the efforts put forth to help conserve water for the area he stated, “[…]these efforts alone won’t be enough to meet the demand.”
“Each permanent resident in St. George today uses an average of approximately 150 gallons of water a day at their home to cook, bathe, wash dishes, do laundry, water landscapes and more. Ongoing conservation efforts and new technology will help each person in our community use even less water in the future.”
We would love to hear what you think. Will a Lake Powell Pipeline help fix the water shortage in St. George? Let us know in the comments below.