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Mayor’s Message

When It Rains It Pours

While it doesn’t rain often during the summer here in the desert, we know from past experience in Southern Utah that “when it rains, it pours”. While this idiom is typically used figuratively, I also mean it literally. July frequently brings seasonal monsoons which can affect us either directly with sudden, heavy bursts of rain, or indirectly with lightning, sometimes causing fires, and with high winds, as forecasted this year.

Large amounts of surface water flowing and at times flooding as a result of these downpours is something we’ve been dealing with since the days of Jacob Hamblin with the Santa Clara River and John D. Lee with the Virgin River. I recall reading about prior generations here during the early 1900’s building dams above town and rock ditches in town to help mitigate stormwater flooding.

From this perspective and with this experience, Washington City adopted a Storm Water Management Program many years ago. The most recent update came in the form of a 100 page document approved by the City Council last Fall that, as Mayor I’ve taken the time to read, but to some would likely serve better as a sleep aid. Joking aside, it’s critical that we continue taking a proactive and comprehensive approach to manage stormwater and snowmelt runoff to reduce the negative impact on those who live here today. Each resident should also consider their personal circumstances to determine what needs to be done to best prepare and protect their own property from monsoonal rain events, and act accordingly.

As part of the city’s ongoing implementations, we’ve budgeted $9,437,001 towards projects specific to stormwater infrastructure this year alone. That’s almost 20% percent of our Capital Projects Budget for Fiscal Year 2023 which started on July 1st, 2022.

These projects often go unseen and unnoticed and can come in the form of detention and retention basins, riprap along river banks, water intakes, and a network of underground trunk lines to name a few. They’re frequently done in conjunction with street or sewer capital projects. New subdivisions are planned and platted with this in mind, and developers incur their portion of the cost of associated infrastructure. At a basic yet effective level, curbs and gutters in between sidewalks and streets play an important role in proper conveyance of stormwater runoff.

Another component of the program is to achieve goals pertaining to preserving the quality of surface water and its effect on fish and wildlife, educating the community on water quality protection, and providing guidelines and regulations for development with respect to stormwater. Many of these requirements stem from State and Federal Agencies and their oversight of local government.

In Utah’s Dixie we’ve always had quite the relationship with our most precious natural resource. We love when it comes from a heavy snowpack and gently melts and drains into our reservoirs. We fear when it comes in droves over hard, dry ground and rages into our communities. All the while we depend on it and must learn to manage it appropriately if we are to continue to thrive in this unique climate. Of course that resource is water.

-Kress Staheli


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