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St. George is set to double in size in the next 40 years. Here’s how the new mayor wants to prepare.

‘Water needs to be treated as liquid gold,’ Mayor Michele Randall said.

(Alastair Lee Bitsóí | The Salt Lake Tribune) St. George Mayor Michele Randall gives her State of the City address at the Dixie Center Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022.

St. George • Brigham Young’s winter home — St. George — has grown by about 22,000 people between 2010 and 2020 to 95,000, and 40-year projections predict the city will double its population.

That means St. George residents need to become more conscious of their water use, Mayor Michele Randall said in her State of the City address at the Dixie Center Tuesday afternoon. It was the mayor’s first public message to her voters, after being elected the first woman leader in the city’s 159-year history.

Before driving to give her address, the mayor said she stopped by a local gas station for a bottle of water that cost her $1.84 and said that demand for this precious resource would only increase.

“We need to start treating our water like liquid gold,” she said.

More water will be needed for the new residents expected to move to the city in the next 40 years. The growth requires more public safety and housing, she said, noting that she and the city administration are working to grow the city under an economic plan called St. George 2040.

Shirlayne Quayle, director for economic vitality and housing for the city, said that yearly permits for single-family homes have increased between 2019 and 2021 from 996 to 1,318. The city’s goal, she said, is to address the gap of mixed and multigenerational homes and make housing more affordable for all under what she called “attainable housing.”

Quayle said that a coalition of real estate agents, banks, builders and developers have come together to help the city plan for more housing needs in this growing community.

Driving the growth is a strong economy. The Milken Institute ranked St. George fourth in its top 10 best performing small cities for economic opportunities in 2020, Qualye added.

Road expansion to make traffic less heavy and more efficient is another priority for the mayor and the city administration.

Visits to the city are increasing too, as tourists come for outdoor activities. The St. George Regional Airport is planning to accommodate the growing number of visitors who fly out of the airport with a larger terminal, said Cameron Cutler, public works director for the city.

With 130,000 planes departing the airport in 2021, “we have understood we have to grow the airport terminal,” Cutler said.

In her closing remarks, the mayor thanked nonprofits that are leading community efforts to keep the city clean with trash pickups and celebrated the city’s success in securing the Ironman World Championships in 2022. In 2021, St. George hosted the Ironman, which brought in $18 million for the city along with 11,000 visitors.

“The tagline for St. George is ‘the brighter side,’ and I think we all feel living in St. George, it’s a special place to live,” Randall said. “And we want everybody to feel like that. We live on the brighter side of our community. And we are the brighter side because of each and every one of you.”