The first-ever private surfing community in Utah is coming to the town of Hurricane. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Immaculate Homes is currently building a water sports community in the middle of the desert.

Jason Christensen, who is President of Immaculate Homes, described what will make this community so unique.

“This will be the first surf community in Utah. It will have the second-largest standing surf wave in the United States. And the new technology that goes into that probably makes us unique in the world right now.”

Called Southern Shores, the private community will consist of 56 lots, 34 of which are “lakeside.” There will be a boating lake, which will be 500 feet wide and 2,400 feet. This boating lake will be used for water skiing and wakeboarding. The 100-by-700-foot Cable Lake will also be for wakeboarders and water skiers and will feature rails and jumps.

The main attraction will be the surfing pool. Created by UNIT Surf Pool, it will become the second-widest surfing pool in the United States. The waves will replicate what you experience during the best days in the ocean. This surfing pool can also be used for paddle boarding and swimming. The pool is deeper and more technologically advanced than surf machines, like the FlowRider, which are seen on cruise ships.

Jessica O’Leary, who is the Co-Founder of UNIT Surf Pool, described the appeal of these machines:

“On the surfing waves of a cruise ship, you are riding a small board without fins over an inch or two of water that’s being propelled toward you. It doesn’t require any skills … UNIT Surf Pools enable surfers to use boards with fins on them and to hone or acquire skills that can translate to ocean surfing.”

There’s one thing that makes a development like this a wee bit problematic: the American West’s water issues. Due to evaporation, the amount of water that will be lost each year is 135 acre-feet. One acre-foot amounts to nearly 326,000 gallons of water, so tens of millions of gallons of water will be lost each year. This lost water will have to be replaced, which will come from the aquifer underneath their land.

Due to this, some locals are pissed about the development. Edward Andrechak, who is the water program manager of Conserve Southwest Utah, described his concerns about the development:

“That’s 44 million gallons of water just to make up for the amount of water lost due to evaporation… We live in a desert, so we should start acting like we live in a desert.”

Only the homes from the development will use water from the Washington County Water Conservancy District, which is still dealing with drought circumstances in spite of an excellent winter.

In addition, the lakebeds will be covered with synthetic Geomembrane lining in order to protect them from leakage or percolation. They have also created a sandstone-like material (cement powder and soil) that will be used around the shoreline to prevent erosion. The other tactic that will be used is an island around the boating lake. With palm trees, oaks, and glossy privets on the island, this will act as a windbreaker and prevent water loss.

On their website, Immaculate Homes explain where the water is coming from for the lakes:

“Water, like land, is a precious natural resource and similar to land must be owned or leased by the end user. Southern Shores is using private water that we own from the subsurface aquifer underneath our land. These “water rights” along with the well to access it has been scrutinized and approved by the Utah State Water Engineer.”

When I first heard about this development last week, I thought of this meme:

Then I started researching the information, and I mellowed out a bit. The lakes on the map look small, so it’s not as bad as I envisioned. Then I read that they’re openly admitting that they’re going to be losing 135 acre-feet of water each year due to evaporation. Then I got pissed again. The St. George area has struggled with water issues for years and a potential water source that could help people is going to be used for surfing a small amount of homeowners.

I imagine this development will be initially successful, as people tend to want to be nearby water when they’re in the warm desert. The question is when the next severe drought comes through, how long will this development last before it experiences water shortages? In the meantime, the surfing pool is expected to be operational for demonstrational purposes within the next couple of weeks. The full buildout of the community could take up to ten years.

Image Credits: Immaculate Homes

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