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:

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

salt lake mayorMendenhall guns...
Curt Gresseth

After NY law is struck down, two Utah experts sound off on gun rights

Two advocates on either side of the gun-control vs. gun rights debate sound off on the Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling to expand the right to carry a firearm in public.
5 days ago
Salt Lake County Search and Rescue safely rescued a hiker  out of the Lisa Falls trail on Friday.
Curt Gresseth

Search and rescue expert has tips for hikers

Before you head out on your hike, take someone with you, tell somebody where you are going and when you plan to return. Those are just a few words for hikers from an expert on search and rescue.
6 days ago
A fire engine is seen as the Sheep fire burns in Wrightwood, Calif., Monday, June 13, 2022. (AP Pho...
Curt Gresseth

Be Ready Utah: What to do when wildfires close in on your home

Will you be ready if wildfires close in on your home? A survivor of a wildfire shares his experience and an expert shares tips and advice.
7 days ago
(Photo Credit: CNN/Shutterstock)...
Curt Gresseth

What is behind rising credit-card debt? Financial expert weighs in.

A national expert explains the sudden rise in credit-card debt in April and what you can do to lower your monthly payments.
13 days ago
first time millennial homebuyer Utah...
Curt Gresseth

Housing market in Utah looking better for first-time home buyers, says real-estate agent.

Is the American Dream once again reachable for younger adults as the housing market in Utah slows? A real estate agent discusses the cooling housing market and what that means for first-time home buyers.
13 days ago
FILE - This Aug. 10, 2016, file photo, Evan McMullin speaks during an interview in Salt Lake City. ...
Curt Gresseth

If it’s Lee vs. McMullin, it won’t be a traditional Utah race, says political insider

An expert in Utah politics predicts Sen. Mike Lee will win the primary and will face independent Evan McMullin in the general election.
18 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Developer discusses plan to revive, restore Utah Lake