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Early view of the water tank on Skyline Drive. Note the Sugar
Loaf at upper left.
R.C. Lund served as the city's water superintendent in 1943 and 1944. In
May of 1945, William E. Baker was named to the post. Bill Baker's tenure
on the water side paralleled Ken Parkinson's on the power side. Like Parkinson,
Baker approached his responsibilities with a hands-on attitude. He took
it upon himself to search out and develop the best water sources available,
and when he came up with an idea, he would get the go-ahead from the commission,
then go to work with his crew to make it happen. Bakers history with the
city is one of discovery, development and delivery of water from Mill Creek
north of Washington, to the Gunlock drainage on the west side of the county.
At the same time the power side was scrambling to develop more kilowatts,
the water side was looking for more water volume. Although growth in the
40s and 50s was nothing like today, it was very significant at the time.
If not for quick and effective moves by the commission and by Baker and
his crew, the water supply would have never kept up with demand.
In 1948, the city built a 1 million gallon water storage tank on the Red
Hill at the head of Fifth East. The tank not only became a major component
in the municipal water system, but also added to the community's social
scene. The tank was constructed with a railing around the top, and its wide,
flat concrete roof became a popular outdoor dance floor. For years after
its completion, the water tank was a favorite fun spot for Dixie-ites.
Turning to Mill Creek, and Controversy
By the mid 1950s, the water supply was looking rather bleak in St. George.
City leaders turned toward Mill Creek, above the city of Washington, for
new sources. The city began to purchase water rights from farmers in the
Washington area. Contention began to simmer as some Washington citizens
envisioned the City of St. George taking over their water. Water has always
been a point of confrontation in the west, and St. George's water history
is no exception. In fact, the dispute with Washington could probably trace
its roots all the way back to the turn of the century when differences of
opinion surfaced as to how and where the original Cottonwood water should
Suffice it to say here that the Mill Creek controversy in the 1950s was
settled through not-always amiable negotiations both in and out of court.
Though ongoing splinters of the debate continue to this day, St. George
succeeded in developing several productive springs in the system, and ultimately
piped the water to a 2 million gallon tank built on the Red Hill at the
north end of Main Street.
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Articles taken from Making the Desert Bloom
2014 City of St. George