UTAH DROUGHT

Lawmaker: Concern over Great Salt Lake is bigger deal than we realize

Jan 6, 2023, 9:30 PM | Updated: 9:31 pm

great salt lake is pictured...

Representative Doug Owens is sponsoring a bill that would have redirected conserved water by residents to the Great Salt Lake. (Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)

(Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Despite recent storms that have brought large amounts of snow to the state, there is still concern about the survival of the Great Salt Lake. 

Rep. Casey Snider (R-Paradise) came on KSL at Night with Greg Skordas and Derek Brown to discuss the situation with the Great Salt Lake. Snider is co-chair of the Legislative Water Commission. 

Snider said the Great Salt Lake is an issue that his commission has discussed. But says now is the time offer up solutions in order to save the lake.

“I think, you know, the Great Salt Lake has always been there obviously,” he said. “But I would say the pressure to do something has become more acute in the last couple of years as we’ve just about lost it.”

Concern over Great Salt Lake is real

Snider was asked if the concern or panic over the shrinking of the Great Salt Lake is legitimate?

“I think it’s actually probably a bigger deal than we even give it credence to,” he said. 

Snider says other places in the world that have lost their terminal saline lakes, have had catastrophic consequences.

“It’s not just a dried lakebed that’s going to blow dust into your living room, which is bad” he said. “Or the elimination of species that are found nowhere else. It’s actually a cycle that perpetuates itself.”

Recent studies have come out claiming the Great Salt Lake may have a lifespan as short as five years. Snider is asked what the legislature is going to do about that in the next session.

“It’s going to be a variety of things,” he said. “I will say we are errors of tools that legislators in the last couple of sessions have given us. So, we’re not starting from scratch.”

Snider says the focal point of the next legislative session will be to apply funding to preserve water rights for the lake.

“I think that’s one of the most important things we can do,” he said. “We’re gonna save a body of water, we better get water to it.”

Specifically, he says the legislature is going to be making significant investments in improving the efficiency of farmers and farms.

By doing so, Snider says farmers will be able to grow the same crop, but with less water. Thus, creating additional water for the Great Salt Lake. 

In the last legislative session, $40 million was set aside for the procurement of water rights that are not being fully utilized, according to Snider.

“So, there’s a host of things we can do in the next legislative session,” he said.

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Lawmaker: Concern over Great Salt Lake is bigger deal than we realize