Water Conservancy District and Sales Tax Appropriations – If we don’t grow, we die?

OPINION – “If we do not grow we die.” So said St. George City Manager Gary Esplin at the Washington County Water Conservancy District where the first portion of the biweekly City Council meeting was recently held.

The meeting was hosted by the WCWCD so that some final details for a vote on an increase in funding for water treatment facilities could be addressed; but it stood to reason that the controversial Lake Powell Pipeline was briefly discussed as well.

The head of the WCWCD, Ron Thompson, refuted any notions that conservation was a viable option for water issues in the county, going so far as to imply that even such draconian measures as cutting down all the trees and tearing up all the grass would not put a dent in the problem.

Who said anything about any of this? Is that the only medium for conservation in the minds of those at the WCWCD? Does it not stand to reason that we should at least consider viable options before committing to a $1-2 billion project that the taxpayers alone will shoulder?

Furthermore, has the WCWCD truly considered viable alternatives?

Barbara Hjelle of the WCWCD does not seem to think so. In a recent St. George News article by Mori Kessler, she was interviewed on the LPP.

“Look at the data.” Hjelle said. “You’ll find there isn’t a more effective alternative [than the pipeline].”

According to who? The people of the WCWCD that’s who.


•••••••• •••  YouTube by WhoPaysForWaste with Dallas Hyland as a contributor ••• ••••••••

I cannot urge the citizens of this county enough to do diligence on this and look at as much of the evidence as possible so an informed decision can be made.

Draconian scare tactics are effective to uninformed masses and that is largely what people in this area tend to be on this subject – but the ramifications of this project are too serious to let this continue to be the case.

Last week Utah’s House Bill 0174, (the “Sales and Use Tax Allocations for Water Resources Construction Fund” Bill), received a favorable recommendation to the House from the Revenue and Taxation Committee, and fiscal notes were sent to its sponsor on third House Reading Feb. 22. This bill, if passed, amends existing statutes to allocate 15 percent of the growth in certain sales and use tax revenue and other enumerated sales and use tax revenue statewide to water projects such as the LPP. If passed by the House, and then the Senate, it is staged to go into effect July 1 of this year.  Linked here is the full text of the statutes with proposed amendments.

Pay attention here now, that means the entire state will now shoulder the burden for the water being brought to Washington and possibly surrounding counties.

This earmark of sales tax in addition to that allocated to roads and highways means that a considerable portion of certain sales and use tax revenue in this state is spoken for.

This will affect already hurting areas funded by the taxes such as education, public safety, and health assistance.

The LPP advocates maintain its necessity largely upon somewhat hazy and fluctuating growth projections, which put Washington County at roughly 800,000 people in the next fifty years give or take a few hundred thousand. (Seriously, it is that vague at this time.)

But the question of growth notwithstanding, what if we bury ourselves in debt and perpetuate social cycles of poor education with all that comes with those factors in the process?

And fluctuating and hazy growth numbers not withstanding, how much growth can this region actually handle? How much is enough? How much is too much?

Historical accounts of societal collapses, by application, show our current drive for perpetual and unending consumption and growth to be a recipe for disaster.

The pioneers who settled this area had grit and foresight but most of all prudence, modesty, and a stewardship mindset. The ideologies held so dear by these people championed these things in groundbreaking ways.

The politics of our area now have seemingly abandoned those ideologies for the lure of something more perennial: the sweetness of economic overindulgence. Seriously, when did we begin the process of defining ourselves as a culture by our consumptive habits? Since when does growth have to be relegated only to economic growth, i.e. fast food restaurants, hair salons, payday loan stores, and buy-here-pay-here car lots? What about the healthy growth that comes from sustaining and cultivating the community we already have?

If we don’t grow, we die? Says who?

I would assert it might be the growth that kills us in the end.

See you out there.


email: [email protected]

twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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  • Sandra Fullerton February 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    If we need to conserve on water why is St. George City putting in a water feature on Skyline Dr (oops Red Hills Parkway).

  • Oldtimer February 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    The water feature/desert gardens on the red hill is a County Water Conservancy District project. It has nothing to do with St. George City. The district petitioned the State for money for the Lake Powell Pipeline and this extra funding will help them build necessary projects like the water feature on the hill.

    • Sandra Fullerton February 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      Ok, but it still will use water that we supposedly need to conserve right???? Get my point?

    • Sandra Fullerton March 7, 2012 at 8:28 am

      Old-timer: Would you happen to be Dan McArthur?

  • Jim Barnes February 24, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I can’t see where this kind of growth is possible without having a good manufacturing base. The growth around here has been sustaining by retirees moving into the area, this growth would continue at nearly the same pace with the economy the way it is. The WCCD has taken a pipeline or nothing approach something is amiss here. I truly have to wonder which WCCD members stand to profit greatly from this. I found Ron Thompson doesn’t want to be factual with the citizens of this area and is trying to ramrod this pipeline down our throats. There is no way impact fees will ever come close to paying for the pipeline, I presume that the majority will come from huge property and water rate increases which will just drive more people away from living here. The WCCD needs new impartial members and not the same old political good ole boy network!

  • Tyler February 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    This town doesn’t know the meaning of conservation!! Infact, it only knows the opposite…..WASTE!!! Water restrictions and landscaping should be NO different at all from Vegas or Pheonix. Size does not matter, a desert city is a desert city! These pinheads in office around here are Outrageous!

  • ron February 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Growth has to stop somewhere. It can stop when a community is still “liveable.” Or it can stop when a community turns into a Los Angeles or a Phoenix, two cities that were once beautiful, liveable communities but are now places most sane people want to avoid like the plague. Opening the door to continued growth with an exorbitantly expensive project like the pipeline means that one day not too far off no one will want to live in St. George (as unbelievable as that might sound today). Sanity must prevail. We must put a stop to the madness.

  • Doris Wagoner March 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    When we moved to St. George I expected to see less water used for landscaping. Instead we see all the new areas being developed with beautiful landscaping that must require a lot of water to maintain. Why when we know we live in a desert there is so much waste and the powers that be think they must build a pipeline at a tremendous cost that can’t be paid for. We could educate people in the other direction rather than paying higher taxes for a pipeline that may someday never produce the water we greedy people think we need. And now you say we must conserve. Yes we must conserve but not with the strategy currently in place. And, Why should the whole state submit to taxes to help us do something some think is stupid.

    • Sandra Fullerton March 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      You are absolutely right Doris Wagoner.
      I’m behind you 100%.

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