Sen. Romney says it will take more than conservation to fill up Great Salt Lake, it will cost billions

Jul 20, 2022, 7:00 PM | Updated: Jul 21, 2022, 9:34 am
As the 2023 legislative sessions gets underway, Utah lawmakers are offering interesting ideas to ad...
FILE: Paddleboarders leave the water at the Great Salt Lake State Park in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 10, 2022. On Friday, it was announced that Congress is sending $10 million to Utah specifically to help the Great Salt Lake. The money is coming from the $858 billion defense bill. Photo credit: Laura Seitz/Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) says getting more water into the Great Salt Lake is going to take much more than conservation. And could possibly cost billions of dollars.

“This is not just a matter of taking our 3-minute showers down to one minute. This is going to require something far more substantial than modest adjustments,” he said Wednesday on a call with local reporters.

“I believe the solutions are going to cost in the many billions of dollars. I don’t know how many, but I would say a multi-billion-dollar effort.”

Utah’s junior senator is trying to pass a bill that would allow the army corps to come in and do a feasibility study, to figure out what the answer could be.

Is conservation enough to save the Great Salt Lake?

Romney says he desperately hopes conservation could increase water levels enough, by looking at the various entities that take from the rivers that feed the Great Salt Lake.

“The analysis is how much would be available by doing that given that fact that we seem to be having less rainfall and less snowfall,” he said.

But, he said, it will likely take money.

“It may require purchases of water rights, the purchases of land, paying homeowners to move away from grass…. these are the things that will have to be evaluated.”

Romney signaled the estimated multi-billion-dollar investment, would be worth it, saying when he was governor of Massachusetts, they spent $15 billion for a big construction project.

“And that was to alleviate traffic, he said. “If we’re willing to spend 15-billion dollars on a big dig, then ought to be willing to spend whatever’s necessary to save the Great Salt Lake,” he added.

Is piping water a possibility?

Romney says he doesn’t know whether the idea of piping water from the Pacific Ocean would work.

“I don’t know whether that one is feasible or ridiculous given the fact it hasn’t been studied before,” he said.

He cited a study of pipeline coming from the Missouri River to bolster water in the Colorado River. Romney said it was very expensive and was done some years ago.

“But if the climate continues to give us drought, I think you want to evaluate as many options as you can.”

When might we know?

If Congress passes off on his bill, which was also introduced in the House by Rep. Burgess Owens and Rep. Chris Stewart, Romney says he expects to have results of this within a year.

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Sen. Romney says it will take more than conservation to fill up Great Salt Lake, it will cost billions