County Commission appoints Renstrom to water district board

Zachary Renstrom with his wife, Alison, daughter Sierra and sons Nicholas and Austin
Zachary Renstrom with his wife, Alison, daughter Sierra and sons Nicholas and Austin, St. George, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Alison Renstrom, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – At a special meeting Tuesday, the Washington County Commission appointed Commissioner Zachary Renstrom to serve on the Washington County Water Conservancy District Board of Trustees.

Renstrom will fill the seat that former Commissioner James Eardley was appointed to in January.

Renstrom won the Republican nomination over Eardley in April 2014 at the Washington County Republican Convention, and Eardley retired and left office at the end of December 2014.

In January, Eardley was appointed to the water district board; however, it was discovered that accepting the position meant he would not receive retirement benefits, and he eventually turned down the position, County Administrator Dean Cox said. Eardley was never actually seated on the water board.

Renstrom was elected to the County Commission in November 2014. He is both a licensed civil engineer and a licensed attorney, a background which he believes will help him in his new position on the water board.

“My hope is that I can really contribute to that board,” Renstrom said. “We’re going to be facing some big decisions here in the future, so I want to be part of that process; and I hope I can help that process.”

Renstrom ran for office and was elected based on his background, he said, and hopes to continue using his background to serve on the water board. He is familiar with water projects both from the design and legal aspects, he said.

There should be almost no learning curve for me to pick up a (water) study and read it,” Renstom said.

When asked about the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline, Renstrom said it is still early in the process. There isn’t even a set route yet, just proposed alternatives; and the environmental and engineering analyses are not finished either, he said.

“I think we need to finish that process,” Renstrom said. “And then I think we need to have a debate as a community. Just not as a conservancy board having a debate, but as a community.”

Once the cities, mayor, and citizens have all given input, then a decision can be made, Renstrom said, but all the knowledge needed to make a final decision is not there yet.

“But I can say that the preliminary analysis is, we’re going to need that pipeline if we want any type of growth in this county,” he said. “We’re getting to the point where we’re going to run out (of water).”

Renstrom’s goal is that his children are able to live and work in the area “in about 20 years.”

Whether the or not the Lake Powell Pipeline is ever built, conservation is going to be a huge part of what needs to be done, Renstrom said.

One thing the water district is looking at is setting up two different impact fees for new homes. One fee option would be the same as it is now, however the other option would cost less and limit the property to a lower water use. Such homeowners would use xeriscaping, rather that putting in big lawns, Renstrom said. Using more than the allotted amount of water would be possible, but cost the homeowner more.

There are many other options for conservation, including increased education and involvement by the cities, Renstrom said.

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10 Comments

  • Brian July 15, 2015 at 8:44 am

    By all means, build the Powell pipeline. How else can we be in Vegas’ and California’s enviable positions in 20 years, with regards to water? They’re just about done with the last straw that will be used to suck Mead completely dry, and California is nearly done draining their above ground water and is rapidly doing the same to their below ground water (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/depleting-the-water/). Why not do the same for Powell?

    • fun bag July 16, 2015 at 12:10 am

      When I get my oyster farm going I’m going to register it as a golf course so I get all the free water I ever want. I’m gonna get rich!!! Build the big pipe!!!

  • laytonian July 15, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Really? You want unbridled growth in your area?
    Until you get serious about water usage and start pulling out all those heavily-watered lawns that are never walked on, not a dime should be spent in draining Lake Powell.

  • Chris July 15, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    “we need to have a debate as a community” Any debate as a “community” needs to be followed by a vote as a “community.” Renstrom and the rest of the commission, as well as nearly every other political office holder in Washington county, have gone on record as opposing a vote. Why?

  • BIG GUY July 15, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    I am completely on board with the first three comments on this article. The people of Washington County deserve a vote on the pipeline.

    • Bender July 15, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      BIG GUY, you and your buddies in the local voting electorate had the chance to elect a moderate Democrat who was not pro-pipeline, Van Dam, instead of the conservative Republican you put in office. No local Republican will ever survive the primary/caucus unless he/she is pro-pipeline. You reap what you sow. Complain about the pipeline being shoved down your throat one minute and vote straight ballot R the next.

      • fun bag July 16, 2015 at 12:07 am

        BIGGUY wants to have the cake and eat it too…

  • fun bag July 15, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    the pipeline is getting built. The Lord has decided and the word is final. Expect property tax to go up several hundred dollars and increased water rates (golf courses excepted of course)

  • fun bag July 15, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    And with all the money to be made on the pipe the water kings can build an even bigger palace up on the hill… (maybe even a few more rock parks too)

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