‘Win-win for everybody’: Ivins, developer compromise on larger reservoir

IVINS — A redesign of a proposed reservoir in Ivins led by the public works director of the city proved to be refreshing to both the developer of the Kayenta community and the Washington County Water Conservancy District. 

Ivins Public Works Director Chuck Gillette speaks before the Ivins City Council at the new Ivins City Hall, Ivins, Utah, Dec. 2, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

The suggested design, by Ivins Public Works Director Chuck Gillette, ends up getting close – 1,900 acre-feet of water – to the 2,000 acre-feet of water the water district had been seeking for the new Dry Wash Reservoir planned in a ravine between Old Highway 91 and Kwavasa Drive.

It also allows Kayenta Development/RT Marten UT LLC to not have to forgo as much of the land they had slated for the development of housing. 

Nevertheless, the Ivins City Council still unanimously approved a measure at its Thursday night meeting at the new Ivins City Hall that endorses the water district to acquire the Kayenta land and that of other developers through eminent domain should Kayenta change their mind, and that no other applications for permits will be taken for land involved in the Dry Wash Reservoir.

Councilmember Derek Larsen, who had opposed a previous effort by the developer to reduce the reservoir to 800 acre-feet, told St. George News he thought it was a great compromise.

A map, projected onto a screen at the council chambers in the new Ivins City Hall, shows the new boundaries for a potential new reservoir, Dec. 2, 2021, Ivins, Utah | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

“I think it goes to show that when you get people together on both sides of an issue and talk through things, usually you come out with a better solution than to have one person just impose their will upon another. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Larsen, who said last Thursday was his last council meeting as he was voted out in November and will be on vacation during the last council meeting of the year, said that the council ultimately voting on the eminent domain endorsement was only a stopgap measure. 

“I don’t know that it will be a condemnation per se. It’s just there in case it has to happen,” Larsen said. 

The compromise that created a kind of “singing Kumbaya” between the developer, the city and the water district was announced by Gillette during the Thursday night meeting. And it was as simple as adding 6 feet in height to the dam that will be built near Old Highway 91. 

“I pointed out a modification that would fix the elevation of the reservoir. I asked, ‘Does this hit the sweet spot?’” Gillette said of a Thursday morning meeting between him, water district General Manager Zach Renstrom and Kayenta developer Terry Marten. “The resolution reached was agreeable to Mr. Marten, the district and the engineer.”

A bicyclist and their dog ride through an area planned to be covered in water for a new reservoir, Ivins, Utah, Dec. 1, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

The dam will be built out of materials excavated from the ravine. An additional berm will be built in front of the dam with the same, excavated material that will obscure the dam from Old Highway 91. 

Gillette credits Kayenta developer Lance Anderson with the idea to add the additional excavation to obscure the dam. Anderson will join the council next month after being elected in November. 

“I’ll give some credit to Lance. He was supportive of the idea and was always saying there was a way we could get more capacity,” Gillette said. 

Because of assessments that still need to be made, including those of how a dam breakage would affect nearby homes, Gillette said he doesn’t expect construction on the dam and the reservoir to begin until the spring. 

The water that will fill the reservoir will be used to store water that will be used for non-drinking purposes such as agriculture and irrigation. Presently, Ivins draws from culinary water for both purposes. 

Recreational uses of the reservoir, similar to how Ivins Reservoir has been used for Fire Lake Park, will be determined by the city at a later date. 

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

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