How much will it take to save the Great Salt Lake?

Dec 5, 2022, 9:00 PM

Utah State Parks officials planned to place about 35 boats at the Great Salt Lake Marina today. It'...

FILE: Great Salt Lake State Park and Marina, May 2022. By June, 2023, Utah State Parks officials were placing boats into the Great Salt Lake Marina. (Photo credit: Great Salt Lake State Park and Marina)

(Photo credit: Great Salt Lake State Park and Marina)

SALT LAKE CITY — With the Great Salt Lake in dire need of assistance, a bipartisan bill was passed in the U.S. Senate last week aimed at giving funding toward the study of the lake and other saline lakes in the west.

The Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act was co-sponsored by Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah

The bill will provide $5 million a year for the next five years that will allow the U.S. Geological Survey to examine the lakes in the Great Basin.

However, Debbie Dujanovic of KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Dujanovic asks an important question.

“I’m not sure, first of all, if we’ve got five years left in our lake to sit back and study it,” she said.

She also isn’t sure if $5 million is going to be enough money.

“How far is that going to go?” she asks.

Money for The Great Salt Lake

Kevin Perry, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Utah, came on the program to discuss the situation.

Perry says that water rights and the control of the water are state issues. He says at the federal level, there really isn’t much they can do other than provide money for changes. Additionally, he says the real changes have to come at the state level.

“That being said, there are many, many aspects of the Great Salt Lake and other saline lakes that are under-studied, and we don’t really understand,” Perry said. “And this funding will go a long way toward reducing the uncertainties associated with the hazards associated with these drying up lakes.”

Dave asks, “What’s an appropriate amount of money?”

“To put it into perspective, the state of Utah has been investing $250,000 a year to study the Great Salt Lake,” Perry said. “And that allows about two to three very small research projects to occur each year.”

Dujanovic asks, “Remind us of what the potential consequences are to Salt Lake City and Utah if our lake continues to dry up?”

Perry’s research has shown that there is arsenic in the soil of the Lake. He says that would not be good to breathe.

“We don’t know if the arsenic poses an actual hazard because we don’t yet know how often people are exposed to it,” he said.

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How much will it take to save the Great Salt Lake?