Who’s paying for the water? Big tankers filling up at Maxwell Park cause concern among Hildale residents

Hildale, Utah, July 8, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

HILDALE — An increase in tanker trucks going to Maxwell Park to fill up with thousands of gallons of water has caused some worry and frustration among citizens about who’s going to pay for the water.

Hildale, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Maxwell Park has long been a popular place for people to fill up water bottles and jugs with spring water for free.

The spring system feeds about 70 gallons of water per minute to the city distribution system in Hildale City, Harrison Johnson, utility director for the city, told St. George News. Some of that water is diverted to Maxwell Park so that people can fill up their jugs with drinking water.

Recently, there have been complaints about an increase in big tankers coming in from out of town to fill up with thousands of gallons of spring water to either use for irrigation or to bottle and sell back to citizens, Johnson said.

“Obviously, I imagine it can be really frustrating if you’re going up and you’re trying to fill up a 5-gallon jug for yourself and for your family and there’s a big tanker filling up before you,” he said.

Pure water sits on a table | Unsplash, St. George News

Johnson said this is something that the city has never had to deal with before and the City Council has been in discussion about the issue in order to ensure that locals and others can still fill up their personal jugs. They are also trying to figure out how to make sure the big tankers are paying their fair share.

These tankers use the water for a myriad of reasons, Johnson said. Some of them fill up the tanks to provide water for their home.

“We don’t go up and interview everyone who uses it because there’s no current way to check on that,” he said. “I think if you ask most people around here they have probably had an experience where they’ve gone up there and there’s a 10,000-gallon tank, and they’re just using all the taps. I can certainly see how that would be frustrating.”

While many people might consider this as being a significant drain to the city’s water resources, Harrison said that isn’t the case.

“Landscaping is where people are using the most amount of water. When you see the 12,000-gallon tanker, you think, ‘That looks like a lot of water,’ but an average-sized lawn will eat that up in a week,” he said.

FILE: Hildale Mayor-elect Donia Jessop, next to councilman-elect Jared Nicol, discusses issues facing the town during “Pizza and Politics” forum hosted by Dixie State University’s Institute of Politics and Public Affairs department, Nov. 30, 2017, St. George, Utah | File photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

In the grand scheme, it’s not a lot of water that these tankers are taking, Harrison said. The annual bill for Maxwell Park is approximately $2,000.

“It’s not a huge amount of water, but it’s definitely something people can see because it’s very public.”

Mayor Donia Jessop told St. George News that some of the concern expressed by citizens was caused by a widespread rumor on Facebook that the city was going to be charging its residents for the tanker trucks’ use of water.

“In actuality, we’re trying to protect them from having to pay for what the big tankers are doing,” she said.

For the tankers that are using the water for commercial use, she said the city is working on how to make sure they pay for the water if they’re going resell it or use it to feed their animals.

“We are trying so hard to protect our citizens and make sure that they can go get water and not have to wait for a couple of hours for a 500 or 1,500-gallon tank to fill up,” she said.

The city plans to continue working on this issue until they reach a resolution. Until then, the water will remain free.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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