Sen. Romney introduces bill to help Great Salt Lake

Jul 14, 2022, 4:00 PM
Sen. Mitt Romney is introducing a bill to help the Great Salt Lake's historically low water levels....
Kian Spendlove and Zeke Barrientos take their paddleboard out of the lake at the Great Salt Lake State Park in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 10, 2022. (Laura Seitz/Deseret News)
(Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mitt Romney is proposing a bill that would fund a study into saving the Great Salt Lake, just days after it hit its most historic lows

Utah’s junior senator, along with Congressmen Chris Stewart and Burgess Owens, introduced the Great Salt Lake Recovery Act today. The proposed law would authorize a study of the drought conditions at the lake, and work toward finding solutions to help the lake.

Those solutions could be anything from canal reinforcement to pipelines across state boundaries.

It builds on what lawmakers in Utah already introduced in the 2022 legislative session and warnings about the lake’s status this summer. It also gives $40 million to a program that improves the lake’s watershed.

Consequences if the lake dries up could be dire, not only for the lake’s ecosystem but also for the air we breathe and Utah’s snowpack. 

Here’s the reaction from the lawmakers proposing the act

“Utah’s iconic Great Salt Lake is currently at the lowest levels ever recorded — for the second time in less than a year,” Romney said. “It is incumbent on us to take action now which will preserve and protect this critical body of water for many generations to come. By authorizing a feasibility study on addressing the historic drought conditions of the Great Salt Lake, this legislation complements and elevates the work already being done by the State of Utah to develop a permanent solution to save our Great Salt Lake.”

“The Great Salt Lake is synonymous with the Beehive State,” said Stewart. “And it’s our responsibility to ensure this staple of our community is maintained, preserved, and protected for the people of Utah. This month, the lake dropped to its lowest level ever — a grim milestone (for) the wildlife, people, and industries along its receding shores. State and local officials are hard at work to save the lake and support those who rely on it, but reversing this trend will take a collective effort. This legislation is a great first step toward finding a solution, but our work is far from over.”

“The Great Salt Lake is integral to Utah’s ecosystem and landscape. Historic drought conditions have threatened this treasure, and time is running out. I am proud to support the Great Salt Lake Recovery Act because it is a crucial step to understanding and protecting this fragile resource,” said  Owens.

Utah leaders react to Great Salt Lake Recovery Act

Lawmakers got a view of the Great Salt Lake levels via Blackhawk helicopters this year.

“For years, our strategy to address a receding Great Salt Lake has been to hope for water levels to rise. We are now at a crisis point and if we want to find a solution, hope can no longer be our strategy—we must explore every option to get more water to the lake than ever before,” said Utah Speaker of the House Brad Wilson.

“The Great Salt Lake is iconic when you think of Utah. As one of the state’s many resources, we must do all we can to preserve it for the benefit of the citizens of Utah. The current drought has put a strain on the upstream flows that have historically fed the lake. Being able to study ways to increase water supply while protecting the delicate ecosystem will help us understand the best ways we can preserve this often overlooked resource,” said Director of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands Jamie Barnes.

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Sen. Romney introduces bill to help Great Salt Lake