- Associated Press - Thursday, May 8, 2014

HURRICANE, Utah (AP) - Even after some lengthy explanation, not everyone taking a tour Tuesday of the Quail Creek Water Treatment Plant is likely going to remember the details of how metal coagulants can be employed to drag dirt and other unwanted particles from the local water supply.

Many will have trouble remembering the reason for mixing water brought in from different sources, or the role powder-activated carbon plays in removing problems with taste and odor.

But pretty much everyone should come away with a little more appreciation for the complex processes required to take up to 60 million gallons of raw water from a reservoir and turn it into what comes out of the tap, and a little knowledge goes a long way, said Hank Childers, operations manager with the Washington County Water Conservancy District.

“Knowledge is a very powerful instrument for us, so it’s important that we share it,” Childers said, explaining that while managers at the water district are the stewards of southwestern Utah’s limited supplies, it is up to the community to shape the area’s water future.

That has been a common message so far this week, as the district participates in the statewide Water Week initiative to raise awareness and encourage wiser use as Utah faces what could be a tenuous future.

Simultaneously one of the nation’s fastest-growing states, with its population expected to double over the next 50 years, Utah also is the second-driest, with few opportunities to develop new supplies.

Washington County is a prime example, with its population forecast to more than triple by 2050, but with available water supplies that managers say won’t meet the demand.

The solution they’re proposing, a 140-mile pipeline to Lake Powell, could cost $1 billion to build, and like most other proposed projects in the Colorado River basin, it has been a topic of controversy.

With such major decisions on the horizon, Childers said it is key for residents to learn more about the area’s water supply, where it comes from and how it shapes the way Washington County communities grow.

“I really think the ignorance of people when it comes to water is a real detriment to the community,” Childers said. “The more they know, the more empowered they are to manage it well.”

Several dozen residents had taken a tour at the Quail Creek plant as of mid-afternoon, including a large number of students.

Spencer Bain, a 16-year-old from LaVerkin, said the hands-on experience of visiting the plant helped him to visualize the process.

“It’s a better way to learn than sitting in a classroom, I think, because it’s exciting, it’s entertaining, and you usually remember more of it and take more of it with you,” Bain said.

Similar efforts at education are scheduled the rest of this week, including tours at the other end of the local water system, the St. George Wastewater Treatment Plant, on Wednesday.

Area public school students also are scheduled to attend an educational fair at Dixie State University the next two days.

“We want every resident in Washington County to better understand the essential role water plays in our daily lives and the consistent efforts undertaken to provide a safe, reliable water supply,” said Julie Breckenridge, conservation manager at the water district.


Information from: The Spectrum, http://www.thespectrum.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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