St. George gets water project funding to meet needs of rapidly growing area

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — An important water project for St. George Utah will get about $7 million in funding announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The money will add to $4.7 million announced for the project last year.

Overall, the $94 million Ash Creek Project is a plan to pipe water from Ash Creek Reservoir to a new reservoir nearly 19 miles away — the Chief Toquer Reservoir, under construction about 20 miles northeast of St. George on Interstate 15.

The new reservoir will store reuse water for outdoor irrigation, according to Karry Rathje, Communications & Government Affairs Manager for the Washington County Water Conservancy District. The district is working to ensure the water supply for one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S.

The city’s population was 102,519 in 2022, according to the U.S. Census. It’s within the Colorado River Basin, relying on groundwater and the 162-mile-long Virgin River. The last 30 miles forms the north arm of Lake Mead.

At one time, Utah was pursuing a controversial 143-mile pipeline from Lake Powell to St. George and neighboring Kane County, but a 20-year plan is now the focus of efforts to conserve and recycle water to supply the community through 2042.

Materials describing the 20-year plan say it’s a $1 billion effort that can only succeed with the cooperation of all Regional Water Supply partners, as well as a commitment to an aggressive schedule of project development. The plan relies on conservation measures to generate about 11,400 acre-feet per year. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons — enough to supply two to three households for a year.

Officials from the Department of Interior and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation were on hand Wednesday for the announcement. Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton toured the Chief Toquer Reservoir construction site.

At full capacity, the new reservoir will hold 3,638 acre-feet of water and it’s expected to provide 1,760 acre-feet annually.

“Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are working to equip local communities with the infrastructure and resources they need to meet water supply demands and build climate resilience for the future,” Touton said. “These small surface and groundwater storage projects will boost water storage opportunities and increase resiliency and flexibility for communities in the West.”

The Ash Creek project in Utah and five California projects will get portions of $35 million in funding through Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Two of the California projects are in areas supplied by Colorado River water. The Rancho California Water District’s Pauba Valley Groundwater Banking Project received $9.1 million, and the Imperial Irrigation District received $7 million for its Upstream Reservoir Storage Project.

Original News Source Link – KLAS

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