HURRICANE, Utah - Thirty years ago this week, crews completed construction of Quail Creek Reservoir. At the time it was a plan for the future growth of Washington County.
On Monday, water district leaders and elected officials gathered to celebrate that vision.
Quail Creek Reservoir was completed on Sept. 20, 1985. At the time, the county’s population was 35,761. Washington County Water Conservancy District general manager Ron Thompson said those residents recognized the need to plan ahead.
“This community has always been forward looking, even from the days the first pioneers came down here to plant cotton,” Thompson said. “We built this with a general obligation bond, which passed by a 94-95 percent.”
The reservoir has a storage capacity of 40,325 acre-feet of water and provides 518 jobs to the area. Water district board of trustees chairman Ed Bowler said the economic impact goes beyond the water that’s stored there.
“It was really the start of building a back bone of infrastructure,” Bowler said. “That allows us to move water from Virgin to Ivins.”
Quail Creek Reservoir provides 6.5 billion gallons of potable water annually to the county’s estimated 151,000 residents. By 2030, the population of Washington County is expected to reach 300,000.
With the projected growth in mind, water district officials are planning for the future.
“We’re going to have to be forward planning,” Thompson said. “These projects take a long time to build anymore, they’re decadal in nature, if we don’t have a plan, we plan to fail.”
Elected officials say it’s that forward thinking that is driving current planning. The main project in this area is the state-funded Lake Powell Pipeline, which is still in the planning phase.
“If we don’t have water, life cannot exist,” said Washington County commissioner Zachary Renstrom. “And we could even take that next step. If we don’t have water, our economy doesn’t exist.”
Water district managers say as they look forward to providing for future water needs, continued efforts toward conservation are also a large part of that equation.