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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