OPINION – St. George City Council is considering a bid for a water park by a private contractor. Apparently there is a high demand by the citizens of St. George for a water park and city officials are responding.
Because we expect our elected officials to do what they are told, St. George City Council is doing their job. Or are they? While it is true that when we elect people into office we expect them to do certain things once there, we also put a certain amount of trust in them to do what is in our best interest. Sometimes those two things conflict and officials have to choose one over the other, and should be able to explain why. Just because we want something doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for us.
I am a firm believer in having fun, in having amenities that make life enjoyable, and in having a variety of options to choose from. I have been to water parks and they are fun. I can see why people here want one – and why not? It’s hot here.
But there is this little problem of water scarcity. A problem so dire that the Washington County Water Conservancy District says that if we do not have the Lake Powell Pipeline we will be reduced to draconian water usage that will require us to give up our gardens and lawns. A sentiment shared and supported by City officials.
Well, which is it? Are we running out of water or do we have plenty? I know that water parks recycle the water and may even use reuse water, but they still use and lose a lot of water. If we are running out of water, building a water park seems like a bad decision and a massive gamble with the little water we do have, but if we have plenty of water, why the need for the Lake Powell Pipeline?
Perhaps it is economic development like a water park that justifies the need for the Lake Powell Pipeline to begin with. This is not meant to be an article about the Lake Powell Pipeline, but about conflicting messages from our public officials. Whether we get the pipeline or not, we need to be careful with how we use the water.
Not all of us are elected officials whose job it is to be aware of all the issues affecting or potentially affecting our community. That is why we vote people into those positions and then trust them to make good decisions. So while it is true that they work for us, they are also working on our behalf. Because they often know more than we do, we are entrusting them to use that information to make wise decisions – both popular and unpopular.
I understand our elected officials want to make the citizens happy and want to provide a community that is flourishing and enjoyable to live in, and I like that, but I also expect them to consider the impact of decisions that will be felt long after they leave office.
Our elected officials have a fiduciary duty of stewardship to the public’s natural resources. That responsibility means ensuring that the public would benefit more from the outcome of a decision than they would otherwise. While we want fun activities and a thriving economy, we also want to prevent our local government from conveying public resources to private enterprises for short term benefits or at the expense of the citizens.
Will a water park benefit our community more than making sure there is adequate water for the foreseeable future? I am not saying they are mutually exclusive, maybe there is enough for both. Maybe. A water park may be the next best thing to sliced bread, but … because we live in the desert, foresight and care should be used when officials make decisions regarding water and we should be asking for explanations.
Will there be enough water for a water park and to sustain a thriving community into the future? If the answer to that question is dependent on the Lake Powell Pipeline, we need to question our public officials and ask them to explain the conflicting double message. If this drought continues and we face water shortages, or heaven forbid, a water crisis, the same citizens asking for a water park will be questioning why elected officials did not make better decisions.
Submitted by Greta Hyland
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