Most of the lakes in the Western United States are manmade, meaning without man's influence (a dam, levee or other barrier) there would be no lake.

Washington County is no different, with five of the reservoirs in the county officially operated by the Washington County Water Conservancy District.

In the county, there are: Sand Hollow, Quail Creek, Gunlock, Kolob, and Ivins reservoirs.

Additionally, the Enterprise and Ash Creek are also local lakes, although the WCWCD does not oversee them and the Ash Creek is only full for part of the year.

Under construction is the Chief Toquer Reservoir, with plans for two more in the works (Dry Wash in Ivins and Graveyard Wash in Santa Clara).

WCWCD director Zach Renstrom said the main reason for these manmade lakes is to store water during the low use/high water seasons so the county is ready for the high use/dry season.

By size, here's a quick look at these bodies of water:

  1. Sand Hollow -- The relatively young lake (completed in 2002) is the largest in the county at 51,360 acre-feet of water, surface area of approximately 1,322 acres.
  2. Quail Creek -- Still infamously known as the lake that emptied itself due to a dam break in 1986 (thankfully no fatalities), Quail holds 40,235 acre-feet of water. It was completed in 1984 and has a surface area of about 600 acres.
  3. Upper Enterprise -- At an elevation over 5,000 feet, it can be cool in the wintertime and is usually windy. But the Upper Enterprise has found a following in fishermen and summertime paddleboarders. Upper Enterprise is about 354 acres in surface size and holds approximately 24,000 acre-feet of water. and was completed in 1909.
  4. Gunlock -- Known for its amazing set of falls when the floodgates are open, Gunlock was completed in 1970 and holds 10,884 acre-feet of water.. It's also the deadliest lake in the county, with at least half-a-dozen people being killed or seriously injured there (mostly on or near the waterfalls) Gunlock's surface area is 266 acres.
  5. Kolob -- A popular fishing spot, Kolob was completed in 1956 and holds about 5,586 acre-feet of water. Up above the town of Virgin, Kolob is relatively small at 250 acres. It is also at a high elevation, over 7,000-feet.
  6. Ivins -- With its accompanying Firelake Park, Ivins is a popular swimming spot and holds about 778 acre-feet of water. It is the second-oldest reservoir in the county, completed back in 1918. It is small with a surface area of about 35 acres.
  7. Chief Toquer (under construction) -- Earth-moving is underway and the new reservoir is set to be complete in late 2025. Toquer is a planned 115-acre lake that will hold about 3,640 acre-feet of water. It is designed to be a more reliable alternative to the Ash Creek Lake, which fills and empties with the seasons. Ash Creek is just south of New Harmony on the West side of I-15.

The Dry Wash and Graveyard Wash projects are in the planning stages and Renstrom said they are a necessity with the Lake Powell Pipeline on indefinite pause.

The prospect of a Warner Valley Reservoir, which has been bandied about for nearly a century, may just happen in the not-so-distant future as a land swap is underway for the potential future reservoir.

According to the WCWCD, "There are several technical and engineering challenges that must be overcome before the project can move forward. For example, the reservoir would store Virgin River water that is unsuitable for culinary and landscape irrigation due to contamination from local natural hot springs. Treatment would require reverse osmosis technology, which is expensive and creates complicated environmental impacts."

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