Developer discusses plan to revive, restore Utah Lake

Feb 3, 2022, 6:47 PM

Photo of Utah Lake [Photo Credit: Canva Images]...

Photo of Utah Lake [Photo Credit: Canva Images]

SALT LAKE CITY — An Orem company wants to revive Utah Lake, but the plan has more than 100 scientists and experts speaking out against the proposal. The company CEO discusses the latest developments in restoring the lake.

Lake Restoration Solutions (LRS) is proposing to spend $6.4 billion to dredge and create man-made islands on Utah Lake.

The project plans to dredge the floor of Utah Lake and construct, using the excavated material, several islands that will serve residential as well as recreational and conservational purposes, according to The Daily Universe. The privately funded project would deepen the lake on average by 7 feet.

Sue and countersue

LRS is suing Ben Abbott, an outspoken critic of the project and a BYU associate professor of aquatic ecology. The company is seeking at least $3 million in damages for defamation, false light and “intentional interference with prospective economic relations.”

LRS further said Abbott knowingly made false claims to sway public opinion.

Abbott’s lawyer Whitney Krogue argues the associate professor’s statements, made in various public forums, are not false and the LRS’ suit is itself an illegal “a strategic lawsuit against public participation” or SLAPP action, which should be tossed and subject to severe sanctions, according to The Salt Lake Tribune via Microsoft News.

MSN reported that Abbott has devoted much of his research to Utah Lake, the West’s third-largest freshwater lake.

“I’ve been really impressed with how brave [Abbott] has been through this, where he’s not allowed himself to be silenced by them. Most people, they get a $3 million lawsuit, and they would back down,” said Krogue.

Abbott and his attorney filed an anti-SLAPP statement and counterclaim Tuesday.

More than 100 scientists and experts speak out against proposed islands development for Utah Lake

Welcome to the show

LRS CEO Jon Benson spoke about the Utah Lake project with KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Dujanovic.

Benson said the purpose of his company’s project is to restore Utah Lake, make the waters clean and healthy and let Utahns enjoy the lake once again.

“That sounds ambitious,” Dave said. “Utah Lake is — I’m not gonna say a total disaster — but I mean it’s pretty gross. You want to dredge it. You want to build on it. There’s so many levels to it. It seems like it would take an eternity to actually do this.”

Deseret News: Raw sewage still being dumped into Utah Lake in 1967.

“It’s a proven technology and proven remediation strategy for impaired waterways,” Benson said.

He said three types of islands will be created under the LRS proposal:

    • Wildlife islands designed to be refuges for birds and fish,
    • Recreation islands for campgrounds and
    • Community islands. “They’re there to have beautiful masterplanned, sustainable communities. It’s a way to pay for the project without having any type of new taxpayer burden,” Benson said.

“I’ve read in the news lately and been following the developments with a BYU professor who’s saying that the claims are not accurate. There’s going to be perhaps future issues if you do start dredging the lake. What is your response to people saying that this is just impossible?” Debbie asked.

Benson responded by saying that the Army Corps publicly released the application LRS send in weeks ago, which begins the environmental review process that will take up to two years to complete.

“Will this work? Will this deliver the benefits? That’s the burden upon us to prove that it’s true. And that’s the process that we need to go through,” Benson said.

Related reading: The contentious debate over the future of Utah Lake heats up as developers sue critic

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

Read more:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Dave & Dujanovic

forever renter home...

Curt Gresseth

For that forever renter, good news on buying a new home

Lower mortgage rates and a state home affordability program should be good news for the forever renter in buying their first home.

8 hours ago

wildlife overpasses...

Curt Gresseth

Feds give Utah $5.5M to build wildlife crossings near Kanab

A UDOT wildlife expert discusses building successful animal crossings to reduce collisions with vehicles.

1 day ago

Image of four monolithic domes in Genola, Utah County, designed by Leland Gray and built as a facil...

Curt Gresseth

As some Utah school populations dwindle, could dome schools help?

The idea of dome schools was born in Utah but only one Utah town has them. Could they help more school districts and communities?

4 days ago

FILE - The Instagram app icon on the screen of a mobile device. With an eye on testing the Reels al...

Simone Seikaly

Instagram algorithm test “is scary,” says Utah state senator

Utah State Senator Mike McKell said Instagram's algorithm isn't alone in helping to target users for unsafe content.

4 days ago

are you doom spending?...

Curt Gresseth

Are you ‘doom spending’?

What is doom spending? A KSL NewsRadio producer describes her experience with — and motivation for — reckless buying.

7 days ago

9/11 flag at salt lake 2002 opening ceremony. Winter Games...

Curt Gresseth

As SLC steps closer to hosting 2034 Winter Games, a security expert looks back at 2002

Salt Lake City steps closer to hosting its second Winter Olympics in 2034. A security expert reflects on the lessons learned from the SLC's 2002 Winter Games.

9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Developer discusses plan to revive, restore Utah Lake