‘On my watch we are not allowing the lake to go dry,’ Utah’s governor says of Great Salt Lake

Jan 13, 2023, 12:00 PM

Gov. Spencer Cox is pictured....

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at the PBS Utah Governor’s Monthly News Conference at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 16, 2022. Cox issued an apology last week after insulting members of Congress during a monthly news conference earlier this month. (Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

This article is published through The Great Salt Lake Collaborative: A Solutions Journalism Initiative, a partnership of news, education and media organizations that aims to inform readers about the Great Salt Lake.

SALT LAKE CITY –Governor Spencer Cox said he will not let the Great Salt Lake go dry, pledging new measures to prop it up.

“I’m telling people: On my watch we are not allowing the lake to go dry. We will do whatever it takes to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he said Wednesday in an interview with FOX 13 News about his priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

The governor said water conservation and the Great Salt Lake are among his top priorities to tackle with lawmakers in the 2023 legislative session that begins next week. He is supporting bills and spending around water conservation measures. As part of his proposed $28 billion budget, Gov. Cox would like to see incentives offered to get agriculture producers — the state’s top water user — to switch to new technologies that allow them to grow crops with less water. He has also proposed money to pay farmers not to grow crops and let the water go downstream, to purchase water rights for the lake itself and expanding cloud seeding.

A recent report by dozens of scientists and conservationists warned the Great Salt Lake’s decline has accelerated and the light might dry up within five years without emergency action.

Pressed on what measures can actually get water into the Great Salt Lake, Gov. Cox said you will see more from Capitol Hill soon.

“You will see additional water going into the lake. You’re literally going to see releases from other reservoir systems into the lake. It’s never happened before,” he said. “You’re going to see water rights going to the lake.”

The Great Salt Lake is at its lowest point in recorded history, a result of water diversion, a changing climate and Utah’s mega-drought. It presents an ecological catastrophe for northern Utah with toxic dust storms, reduced snowpack, impacts to wildlife and public health and a multi-billion hit to the state’s economy. While the state has seen significant snowpack this winter, the governor cautioned there was a ways to go to refilling the lake. Gov. Cox previously issued an executive order blocking any new water diversions to help the Great Salt Lake.

The governor said public support for saving the Great Salt Lake has been “tremendous.” He said there is widespread legislative support for reversing the lake’s declines. House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, has personally championed bills to help the Great Salt Lake.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


A lone American flag waves in the morning breeze Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2002, at the Bonneville Salt F...

Allessandra Harris

Water may be the solution to saving the salt flats

With the Bonneville Salt Flats eroding, newly discovered research may have found a way to save them.

19 hours ago

There’s not a lot of options for dwarf fruit trees out there, but there’s enough in apples and ...

Michelle Lee

Growing dwarf fruit trees

One of the topics the KSL Greenhouse show has been covering a lot these past few weeks is gardening in small spaces. Last week, Hosts Taun and Maria decided to continue this discussion, with the focus on dwarf fruit trees.

1 day ago

Two bills currently in the legislature could pave the way for a mine in Parley's Canyon....

Peter Johnston

Polluting dust and a growing city: how a proposed mine in Parleys Canyon could change the Salt Lake Valley

Polluting dust that could end up in the local water and air is just one concern many have over a proposed mine in Parleys Canyon.

1 day ago

Skiers compete in the 2022 Biathlon Youth and Junior World Championships at Soldier Hollow Nordic C...

Mariah Maynes

Soldier Hollow Nordic Center adopts renewable energy

Soldier Hollow Nordic Center's Clear Peaks Program is expected to provide 100% of the Nordic Center's energy needs.

2 days ago

"tree work here" sign pictured on a rose park streed...

Eric Cabrera

Rose Park street losing half its trees, upsetting some residents

Residents of a Rose Park apartment complex are upset. Twenty trees on their street are set to be cut down this week.

3 days ago

school bus is snowy, cache county school district apologized for not having a snow day...

Jessica Lowell

Cache County School District apologizes for not holding a snow day

The Cache County School District decided to hold a regular school day on Tuesday despite weather conditions. 

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

‘On my watch we are not allowing the lake to go dry,’ Utah’s governor says of Great Salt Lake