Oct 14, 2022 - News

Lawmakers and researchers talk Great Salt Lake solutions

An aerial view of the shrinking Great Salt Lake.

Aerial view of salt-laden river channel emptying into Great Salt Lake, Utah. Photo: Marli Miller/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Lawmakers, environmental advocates and researchers gathered for the second annual Great Salt Lake Summit Thursday to discuss potential solutions to the environmental crisis unfolding at the saline lake.

What they're saying: "It's been made abundantly clear to all of us that saving the Great Salt Lake and implementing greater water conservation statewide is not a small task," Republican House Speaker Brad Wilson said.

  • "It's definitely not something that those in this room or I can do alone. It's going to take a concerted effort across the state."

State of play: Wilson announced Weber Basin Water and Jordan Valley Water conservancy districts would send an additional combined 30,000 acre feet of water into the lake before the end of the year.

Details: Utah Department of Natural Resources executive director Joel Ferry said a potential pipeline — floated by International Water Holdings and lawmakers — that would pump water from the Pacific Ocean into the Great Salt Lake would cost the state between $60 to $100 billion.

  • "Now that's really expensive … but what is the cost to do nothing if we continue down this road?" he said, adding that no idea was too big or unreasonable.

Context: Climate change, the ongoing drought and the state's rising population have exacerbated the Great Salt Lake's demise, which could result in severe environmental ramifications and threaten Utah's billion-dollar ski industry.

  • The Utah Legislature passed a bill this year to spend $40 million to preserve the body of water.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the Weber Basin and Jordan Valley water conservancy districts would send an additional 30,000 acre feet of water to the GSL.


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