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811 East Red Hills Parkway
St. George, UT 84770
(435) 627-4800

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Bill Baker's Water Era Begins
Table of Contents

Bill Baker's Water Era Begins


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 be diverted.

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
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