Jan 8, 2024 - News

Farmers could be paid to direct water to the Great Salt Lake under new proposal

Aerial view of Promontory Mountains and Pleistocene shorelines of Glacial Lake Bonneville. Great Salt Lake, Utah, in background. Photo: Marli Miller/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Farmers would be compensated for directing some of their water to the shrinking Great Salt Lake under a new proposal by a Democratic state lawmaker, FOX 13 reports.

Context: The Great Salt Lake sunk to its lowest water level on record in 2022 due to drought, climate change and water diversion.

  • Most of the water that gets diverted from the saline lake is due to agricultural use — largely alfalfa.

Details: The proposal calls for paying farmers to not grow late-season crops, per FOX 13. The water intended for the crops would be sent to the lake instead.

The intrigue: The proposal gained the support of the Utah Farm Bureau after months of negotiations with state lawmakers, according to FOX 13.

What they're saying: "Hopefully it's going to move some of that [agricultural] water to the lake in a way that makes everyone happy," the measure's sponsor state Rep. Doug Owens (D-Millcreek) told FOX 13.

What we're watching: What other water-saving measures state lawmakers will propose this year to protect the lake from environmental collapse.

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