UTAH DROUGHT

At water summit, a warning about the shrinking Great Salt Lake

Apr 26, 2022, 8:03 PM | Updated: Apr 27, 2022, 7:32 am
shrinking great salt lake...
FILE: The Great Salt Lake as seen on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. Photo credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The third week of the Salt Lake County Water Summit focused on the shrinking Great Salt Lake, and the possibility that it may drop another two feet this year to an all-time low.

The falling lake level poses a health threat by exposing dust that is laden with heavy metals. And along with the health threat, Great Salt Lake Coodinator for the Department of Natural Resources, Laura Vernon, said mitigation efforts and lost recreation revenue could cost the state billions of dollars.

“And I think that’s really relevant,” said Vernon, “to cities and counties along the Wasatch Front and those who are hoping to ski more.

The better news, Vernon said, is that the state can make a difference if people work collectively.

“Conserve, right? That’s the most obvious thing that people think about when they think about getting water to the Great Salt Lake.

Besides conserving, however, Vernon said it’s important to think about water-wise planning and development when considering the shrinking Great Salt Lake.

And she said that new laws on the books will also help. These include governing secondary water metering and incentives for using less grass. 

The Utah Legislature passed and Gov. Cox signed dozens of water-related bills generated during the 2022 Utah Legislative Session. 

The Deseret News reports that HB33 is one of the most beneficial of the new laws.  It designates the bed of the Great Salt Lake as a beneficial use for water rights. It means that farmers and others who hold water rights can lease those rights to the Utah Division of Forestry Fire and State Lands.

Another bill signed into law, HB242, provides millions of dollars in grants that will fast-track the metering of secondary water. The Deseret News reports that that bill’s sponsor, Rep. Val Peterson, R-Orem, believes that the water savings generated by HB242 would equal 80,000 acre-feet of water.

Simone Seikaly contributed to this report.

Related reading:

 

Today’s Top Stories

Utah Drought

Sprinkler watering lawn pictured. Drought water conservation made improvements this year....
Chris Jacobs

Water levels indicate that Utah’s water conservation efforts are working

The Division of Water Resources reported that drought conditions are lower than last year and water conservation has maintained consistent water levels.
2 days ago
Sprinkler is shown. Salt Lake water usage was down, saving almost 3 billion gallons...
Kate Davis

Salt Lake saved almost 3 billion gallons of water this season

Lower Salt Lake water usage led the county to save billions of gallons of water in the face of Utah's ongoing drought.
11 days ago
Dry lakebed...
Rachel Ramirez, CNN

The upstream water used to keep Lake Powell afloat is running out

The dam is a key source of energy in the region, generating power for as many as 5.8 million homes and businesses in seven states, and is at high risk of being forced offline should the lake's level drop below 3,490 feet above sea level.
13 days ago
powell plane crash...
Lindsay Aerts

A pipeline from Lake Powell to Washington County is taking shape

Utah is moving forward with the Lake Powell Pipeline, but opponents say it's too costly and that Utah doesn't have the right to divert the water.
17 days ago
utah heat high elevation people on sidewalk in salt lake city...
Becky Bruce

It’s not just hot – this September heat wave is impacting high altitude locations as well

Traveling to high altitude does not afford much relief from the heat wave in northern Utah this week, with blame falling on the high-pressure system above.
26 days ago
The Great Salt Lake has reached a historic low level of water....
Alejandro Lucero

Utah youth to hold funeral style demonstration for Great Salt Lake

A funeral style demonstration will be held by Utah Youth Environmental Solutions Network on Sept. 3. It will begin at 11 a.m.
30 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
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.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
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.
At water summit, a warning about the shrinking Great Salt Lake