St. George City Council discusses energy and water usage, urges conservation

ST. GEORGE — When the St. George City Council met to discuss water and energy policies Thursday, one word was repeated throughout: conservation.

Whether it’s energy or water, the need to conserve is high, said Rene Fleming, the city of St. George manager of energy and water customer service.

“The more energy we use, the more it costs,” Fleming told the council. “We can save money if we use less. That’s something we can all get behind.”

Fleming and the council discussed how people should avoid setting their thermostats below 78 degrees during peak summer usage hours, which fall between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“This will help us manage our power and keep costs down,” Fleming said.

Fleming said that keeping doors closed and window shades drawn would help to keep houses cool.

L-R: Rene Fleming and City Manager Adam Lenhard discuss water and energy at the St. George City Council meeting, St. George, Utah, April 8, 2021 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

“And don’t open the fridge,” Fleming said, adding that the city should get the word out to people to have their air-conditioning units serviced before summer.

“Everybody wants service then,” she said, “and servicers get backed up.”

Before shifting their attention to water, Councilman Gregg McArthur asked how best to get this information out to residents.

“We will run ads on the radio,” Fleming said. “And we will post notices to our Facebook page.”

Mayor Michele Randall chimed in with a bit of humor on how she might help conserve energy.

“I will happily avoid using my oven,” she joked.

‘We’re in the midst of a serious drought’

Regarding issues of water, Fleming said Thursday that residents should avoid watering their yards between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

“Not only will that help ease usage during peak hours,” Fleming said, “but water gets into the soil better at night. It’s better for the plants.”

Fleming also stressed the importance of checking toilets and other plumbing for water leaks.

“Which waste a lot of water without our knowing it,” she said, adding that residents can ask the city for a free water audit.

L-R: Jimmie Hughes, Gregg McArthur, Mayor Michele Randall and Bryan Smethurst listen to a presentation on water and energy at the St. George City Council meeting, St. George, Utah, April 8, 2021 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

“It’s imperative that we monitor our use,” she said.

Randall agreed with the sentiment.

“Especially because we’re in the midst of a serious drought,” she said.

On March 17, Gov. Spencer Cox issued a state of emergency due to the drought conditions in the state. According to, as of April 6, 100% of the state is identified as “abnormally dry,” with over 90% of the state experiencing “extreme drought” conditions, the second highest level of concern.

Washington County is currently listed at the highest level of concern, “exceptional drought” conditions, which can prompt strict fire restrictions and cuts to irrigation use.

McArthur suggested a marketing campaign to educate residents on a sprinkler schedule, and Randall added that the city may be able to offer a rebate to those who install pressure reducers in areas where water pressure is high.

“The information is there,” McArthur said. “Getting it out is the problem.”

Among the more wasteful uses of drinking water is watering the soil, Fleming said, adding that in the summer, 60% of drinking water goes toward watering landscapes.

“In Washington County, we could get by with watering once a week,” she said, “but some are watering every day.”

Fleming said that, though it may sound difficult, stepping up conservation efforts is possible.

“I lived off the grid for 20 years,” she said. “Though it requires some work, it can be done.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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