Robert B. Hilbert, general manager of the Salt Lake County Water Conservancy District for 35 years, has announced he will resign his post April 15.

Hilbert has been the district's chief since 1954, at which time he was also its first and only employee.He also serves as chairman of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, which is the state's sponsor for the Central Utah Project, and is the chairman of the Utah Safe Drinking Water Committee, a post he has held since the committee was formed in 1979.

Hilbert's resignation is the second top-level resignation from the district in recent weeks. Former chief engineer Matthew Marshall recently went to work for an engineering firm in Salt Lake City after announcing he would leave the district.

A battle between the district and Sandy, which is a wholesale customer of the district, is partly responsible for both resignations, Hilbert said.

A district court judge recently dismissed a lawsuit filed by Sandy Mayor Steve Newton. Newton wants to withdraw Sandy from the district so it can join the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake.

Hilbert said he expects the Sandy conflict to continue for some time. "The stress was getting to me. The doctor told me to shut it off."

Hilbert, 60, said he plans to continue serving on the CUP board but will probably step down as chairman Thursday when his one-year appointment to that post runs out.

Hilbert has been on a leave of absence from his duties at the conservancy district for about two months, he said. His administrative assistant, David Ovard, who will be the acting general manager until the district's board chooses a permanent replacement.

"I like the slower pace," Hilbert said. "It's given me more time to concentrate on Central Utah (Project) activities and the Safe Drinking Water Committee.

Hilbert has also been an active member of the American Waterworks Association and was that organization's president in 1974 and 1975.

The conservancy district operates a retail water delivery system and serves 19 wholesale customer agencies in Salt Lake County.