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.
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.
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.
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.”
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