Southern Utah officials talk with residents about water conservation

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HURRICANE, Utah -- Residents in Washington County got an up close look at what their water goes through before they turn on the tap.

Dozens turned out for tours of the Quail Creek Water Treatment plant -- it’s just one event in a week of activities aimed at giving residents a better appreciation of this precious resource.

“We take this water for granted,” said Corey Cram, associate general manager with the Washington County Water Conservancy District. “Once they understand all the challenges that go along with treating the water and making it usable for people to drink… then they make better decisions with their water.”

Cram said educating the public is important -- especially as the state moves into extended drought conditions, putting strain on an already stretched water supply.

“The conditions in our river are probably the worst we’ve seen in the last 50 years,” Cram said. “Those people who depend upon the river are going to struggle, and that’s our agriculture community because they pull that water directly out of the river and use it for their farming.”

Culinary water isn’t as much at risk.

Between Quail Creek Reservoir and Sand Hollow, the district says it has reserves to last at least two years of extreme drought. But officials say there should always be a conservation attitude.

Water treatment plant operations director Hank Childers said that’s part of the reason they offered the tours -- to educate about conservation tactics.

“Introduce them to the many steps of cleaning the water for their use,” Childers said. “They’re always a little overwhelmed. They don’t realize how much goes into purifying the water.”

The process of purifying water involves a series of mixing, adding purification chemicals and filtering. The water treatment plant has the capability of producing 60 million gallons of drinkable water every day.

The plant hasn’t had to reach that capacity yet, but with future projections, officials want to make sure they are able to accommodate the growing population.”

“It is our main objective to try and provide the water requested or needed by the community for whatever lifestyle they want,” Childers said.

Residents who took the tour say it was eye-opening to see the process and appreciate just how much time, money and energy goes into making the desert bloom.

“We talked a little bit about water conservation during the middle of the tour,” said Ivins resident Pat Lisi. “Personally I think that’s an area we need to do a lot better at in St. George, in this valley.”

More information on National Water Week activities, and tips on water conservation can be found on the water district’s website, here: http://www.wcwcd.org/conservation/