UTAH DROUGHT

Washington County is one step closer to a major water reuse project

Jun 7, 2024, 12:00 PM

water reuse...

FILE: Quail Creek Reservoir provides water for much of Washington County. Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News

ST. GEORGE, Utah — When wastewater leaves Washington county, there’s a good chance it’ll also leave the state. That’s why the Washington County Water Conservancy District is investing in a major water reuse project, and a new $20.5 million federal grant is helping foot the bill.

Improving current infrastructure

The district’s general manager, Zach Renstrom, described the reuse project as an advanced sophisticated purification system.

“That requires a lot of infrastructure like pipes and reservoirs. The funding we got will go towards the design and construction of that new system.”

Renstrom said the new system starts with improving current infrastructure.

“This first initial allotment will probably just go to improving the efficiency of the current system. That’s just the easier thing we can do fairly quickly.”

Residents probably won’t notice any drastic change in their water supply during the upgrade. After all, the project has a 20 year time frame.

Adapting and funding for the water reuse project

The district knows this 20 year plan will need to flex with population growth.

“We have outlined a plan where we actually have water for our current growth patterns,” Renstrom said, adding the system they’re working on is “a key component to make sure our 20 year plan will be successful.”

Resntrom noted how they made the plan robust and adaptable.

“If the population increases faster, we can modify our plan and build our projects faster.”

Funding comes from federal grants, new construction, and even the state government.

“The state legislature has already allocated $200 million that will be a loan that we can work with,” Renstrom added these funds are specifically set aside for the district.

“It was great foresight by the legislature… If they do this, it’ll actually save Utah taxpayers, especially in Washington County, millions of dollars.”

In total, the entire project will cost around $1 billion dollars.

Recognizing stewardship

Renstrom knows a federal $20 million grant is no pushover-amount. Federal grants are very competitive, but he said lawmakers notice the actions by Washington County residents.

“We understand how important water is, and it’s neat to see how others, including the federal government, is recognizing all the hard work we’re doing… We’re doing our part.”

In fact, Utah is the only location, outside of California, to receive federal grant money. Renstrom point ted to conservation efforts and water-efficient build patterns for this attention.

“We’re showing that we’re doing all the hard things, but we still need some help. Others are recognizing that, and they are appreciating what we’re doing and want to help. They know what we’re doing is the right thing.”

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Washington County is one step closer to a major water reuse project