‘Don’t you know we live in a desert?’ Developer says lake will actually save water in 3,400-acre Desert Color community.

Conceptual design for a new master plan development of a now 3,400-acre community named Desert Color to be located on SITLA land east of Interstate 15 along Southern Parkway, St. George, Utah. Plan presentation was discussed during a public meeting with the City Council, St. George, Utah, March 8, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Desert Color partners, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A new community development project in the southern end of St. George that is anticipated to eventually accommodate more than 30,000 residents has some asking, ‘What about the water?’

During a public meeting Thursday, the St. George City Council heard the development group behind the master plan for the 3,400-acre community explain how it will implement water conservation-minded design.

Brooke Cole, representative for the Desert Color development partnership, presents elements of its master plan for a 3,400-acre community in the city’s South Block to St. George city officials, St. George, Utah, March 8, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

The “Desert Color” community is on the east side of Interstate 15 below Exit 2 stretching to the Arizona border. Planned features include a commercial town center surrounded by resorts, residential neighborhoods and parks.

When conceptual plans for the development were unveiled in January, an artist’s rendition of the community showed houses surrounded by a large lagoon. A St. George News report about the unveiling had many readers asking how a large body of water like the one depicted could be sustainable in a desert environment.

“When you take a look at a picture like this, as we had shared with the public as our concept and our idea, it might scare some people to begin with, as to, ‘Wait a minute, you’re going to take all my water? What is Desert Color doing, don’t they know we live in a desert,’” Brooke Cole, the Desert Color partnership representative, said.

Conceptual design for a new master plan development of a now 3,400-acre community named Desert Color to be located on SITLA land east of Interstate 15 along Southern Parkway, St. George, Utah. Plan presentation was discussed during a public meeting with the City Council, St. George, Utah, March 8, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Desert Color partners, St. George News

The planned lagoon is actually a better use of land than the alternative of more homes or a golf course when it comes to water use, Cole said.

“We looked at land use and water and natural resources and said ‘How do we utilize those with the highest potential possible with having minimal impact?’”

The 18-acre lagoon, which includes beaches and boardwalks, covers an area that would have allowed for 57 additional single family homes.

Estimating that the 57 homes would use about 20 million gallons of water per year, Cole said, a conservative estimate puts the lagoon’s yearly water use at around 17 percent less than what the homes would use.

“You’re saving water by actually putting a lagoon in here versus filling it in with single family housing,” he said.

Project planners also decided against building a golf course in the community, Cole said, which would have required over 10 times as much water as the lagoon.

A new master plan development, named Desert Color, will be a 3,400-acre community to be located on SITLA land, east of Interstate 15 along Southern Parkway, St. George, Utah | Image courtesy of Desert Color partners, St. George News

The lagoon compromise is just one facet of the developers’ water-saving design plans.

“We want to be engaged with the city and the county and the state and make sure that we are actively working to sustain our water that’s down here,” Cole said, “saving more of it for culinary uses, keeping it affordable and help promote in any way possible the conservation efforts that the city already has in place, as well as the state and Washington County.”

Smaller lots, fewer backyards and irrigated common areas, such as parks, will help conserve water.

As to how the development group plans to get the water necessary to sustain such a large new community, the developer will create a secondary water system.

“We’re basically duplicating your culinary system,” Cole said to the city officials in attendance. “It has its own storage capabilities, it has its own piping and everything else.

“For every lot that we’re proposing to build in Desert Color that we use secondary water on, we use half the amount of water.”

The developer is creating the secondary water system with the approval of the Washington County Water Conservancy District. As a result of the initiative, some impact fees incurred will be reduced but not eliminated.

“It’s not an inexpensive endeavor,” Cole said, “but it’s the right thing to do for a sustainable future.”

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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28 Comments

  • Travis March 9, 2018 at 8:13 am

    There should be a moratorium on lawns.

  • Mr. W March 9, 2018 at 8:24 am

    I love the logic…it could be worse.

  • Pheo March 9, 2018 at 8:47 am

    This is so disingenuous and brazen.

    They are building the exact number of homes that they want to build. There is plenty of land for 57 more homes if they want. So that lagoon isn’t saving water. In fact, he just admitted that the lagoon will be using 16 million gallons per year.

    What a joke.

  • asianspa March 9, 2018 at 9:04 am

    We are very good at building homes , making babies, taking on debt, checking in and out of purgatory for our weekend stays, etc,…What we aren’t so good at though is creating actual career level opportunities. We will never have a positive future in this county until non crony leadership comes to stop repressing wages and letting major industriesthat drive wages such as healthcare grow and diversify. We have a lot of right leaning leaders proclaiming the virtues of capitalism yet they only engage is crony capitalism which basically boils down to a faux communism of sorts for the working class. When will an actual leader that truly understands the value of liquidity to an economy come in and push PURE CAPITALISM and an end to the cronyism? This development is everything wrong here as people will come in thinking this economy must be quite healthy thing only to find an empty pot of gold. We need a middle class and can’t thrive as a city or county without it, you look around and you see have’s and have nots and you can’t have a healthy community with such a polarized segmented culture.. this build until you bubble mentality has to stop!!!

    • comments March 9, 2018 at 11:49 am

      well said. For the foreseeable future, STG will remain a tourist and nursing home economy tho….

    • youcandoit March 17, 2018 at 4:08 pm

      I agree you nailed it. Plus I’m tired of people saying if you don’t like it move. Well that solves nothing. You can’t run away from the problems.

  • Bilford_Wrimley March 9, 2018 at 9:28 am

    I’m certain I could come up with something to do with 57 acres that would use less water than either 57 homes OR a lagoon. Can I have a tax break?

    • Bilford_Wrimley March 9, 2018 at 10:18 am

      How about this: a nice trail system in that space instead of a lagoon, with winding maintained ADA accessible paths, where you can walk your dog on a leash, through vegetation compatible with the local environment, including cactus, mesquite, and such? That would provide a great opportunity for exercise for the retirees who would fill this community, and would attract hummingbirds and more.

      There, just saved the city 15.95 million gallons of water.

      • Lee Sanders March 14, 2018 at 5:00 pm

        That was the first thought that came to my mind, also.

  • Craig March 9, 2018 at 10:46 am

    The difference between a developer and an environmentalist? The environmentalist already has a home in the desert.

    • mesaman March 10, 2018 at 8:46 am

      Developers, also known as land pimps, have been known to tell lies to sell a project; “lake will actually SAVE water”. That is the lie of the century, but then the century is young. I have an idea, let’s have carefully monitored, systematic growth that includes placing a moratorium on new developments until the infrastructure can support the traffic, the expendable energy resources, the the environment, and not become a burden on those who are already members of the community. The law that we should become a major city of 200,000 comes from the minds of those parasites who live off the over-development of the area.

  • Not_So_Much March 9, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Not so much.

  • Bender March 9, 2018 at 11:55 am

    When the three desert washes which converge near this development let loose in all their destructive glory during a prolonged winter storm event and begin meandering through riprap, concrete, drywall and softwood framing I’m guessing we will hear somber calls for prayers from the pulpits of our local ward buildings and small talk of “the Lord’s mysterious ways” and “it’s no ones fault, we couldn’t have known.”

    How about we stop being fools and keep future development respectfully clear of desert waterways? I talking to you county and city leaders/planners, developers, compliant engineering firms and ultimately the uninformed and ignorant buyers.

    • comments March 9, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      I guess they just ASSumed it wouldn’t rain much, this being desert of suddern utardia and all.

  • Scott March 9, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    I think this will be great for our local economy. It will provide hundreds if not thounds of jobs in the construction as well as in the business park that is going in. People are going to move here no matter what because it is such a beautiful place. I think they are doing a great job of making it look nice.

    • comments March 9, 2018 at 2:22 pm

      temporary construction bubble jobs, til the next housing crunch. And an expanded nursing home population of STG. whoohoo!

  • Brugh March 9, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    This area has constant flash floods every time it rains on the Arizona strip. There are also huge glyphs spread out on the land in this area with depictions tied to a certain mesoamerican civilization and a wealthy one at that! The evidence lay upon the earth in a “relief” design manner. How else would greedy people keep the secret, a secret! Deface or destroy it!

    • Anon March 15, 2018 at 8:26 am

      Your comment concerns me on two fronts. First, the glyphs. These do need to be preserved. What is the developer’s plan for this? Why isn’t an educational institution (I’m looking at you, Dixie) trying to save them? It seems that this should be a bigger issue and it is unfortunate that it was not even brought up. Second, the flash flooding. If this is going to be a senior community, as expected, it seems that this would be a HUGE issue. One bad flood and we have essentially an island of elderly folk you will be stranded (at best). I shudder to think of someone like my grandma attempting to walk through the mud and debris that a flood brings and not pull her hip out of socket. And let’s not forget about the clean up effort of the lagoon, should that happen.

  • Foxyheart March 9, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    Let’s see…..20,000,000 gallons of water divided by 57 homes = 350,877 gallons per home. Nope, I don’t believe the average home uses that much water per year. Especially if they are homes on small lots (in their description) that will have virtually no outside watering. Nope, figures don’t add up. Just an optical illusion….don’t worry abut the man behind the curtain, you ignorant fools.

    • vintagehippie March 10, 2018 at 12:44 pm

      We use an average of about 4,000 gallons of water per month. That amounts to 48,000 gallons/year, so their estimate of 350,877 gallons/home is so inaccurate that they must think everyone but them must have an IQ equal to that of toad.

      I wonder if the same faulty math was used to justify the pipeline that the developers want??

      P.S. – I think that the only area residences who want the area to grow enough to need the pipeline are the developers. That is pure greed !

      • Anon March 15, 2018 at 8:18 am

        “IQ equal to that of a toad”… LOL! That is the best thing I’ve read all morning. Thanks for brightening my day! 🙂

    • beacon March 12, 2018 at 11:06 am

      Foxyheart and others, the 20,000,000 gallons per year is based on the official Washington County usage figure of 325 gallons per capita per day and that includes commercial, institutional and industrial water consumption. They’re using the higher GPCD figure to justify the project’s water usage. If they were to use a residential figure of around 170 gpcd, which is one I’ve seen for residential, the total annual water consumption would be around 9,000,000 that they would have to compare against their water features, which by the way, they didn’t actually give a total number or say if they’ve factored in evaporation. They are hoping that most citizens won’t figure this out and certainly leaders who want the project won’t point that out!

  • utahdiablo March 9, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    A lying carpetbagger POS ….and you all bought into it….enjoy the future hell

  • Kace45 March 10, 2018 at 6:58 am

    We need more industry in St. George besides construction! The construction industry is like a cancer — it grows and grows and grows, eating up all available land around it, but eventually the uncontrolled growth ruins the area. People treat their homes like they are disposable — when a neighborhood begins to age people just leave it and flock to the new area. My parents have lived in the same house in California for 50 years. It is a small, tract home built in the 1960’s. They bought it for $40,000 and it is now worth over $800,000. The neighborhood is well manicured and cared for. People treat their homes and neighborhoods with respect because they hold their value and there’s not always some new development springing up over the hill. The construction industry in St. George is all about short-term gain, long-term loss. No one thinks: is this development necessary? Is it sustainable? Does it have INHERENT beauty and value? Or is it just another eyesore in the desert that will be hot for about 5 years until everyone again picks up and moves to the new spot.

  • Brendon March 10, 2018 at 8:58 am

    Tomfoolery at its finest. That’s like getting mugged and your attacker says “hey you’re saving money right now. I’m only stealing your wallet. If I beat the living s*** out of you that would cost you a lot more than what’s in your wallet so be grateful”. And all the people go “oh yes this makes perfect sense. I’ll take 2”

  • hiker75 March 10, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Money, money, money. Developer is full of crap.

  • Waid March 10, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    The absurdity of building lakes in the arid desert so that a wealthy few can enjoy waterfront property is utterly staggering. Unfortunately, the St. George city council and planning commission, both of which are wholly owned subsidiaries of the chamber-of-commerce, will be only too happy to endorse this idiocy. The water district is more than happy to support such water-waste in order to help justify spending billions of imaginary Washington County tax dollars to build the Lake Powell Pipeline Boondoggle. It’s a win-win-win-win for developers, the wealthy, the water district, and the chamber of commerce! The rest of us merely get to pay higher taxes necessitated by all the public infrastructure that must be built to support excessive growth. Crowding, traffic congestion, air pollution, homelessness, and crime brought by unconstrained and overly rapid growth are things we can also appreciate.

  • Carpe Diem March 12, 2018 at 10:41 am

    When that desert wash floods they shall divert it to the ponds which are engineered to fill up like the Salton Sea.

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