UTAH DROUGHT

Lawsuit alleges that Utah is failing to protect the Great Salt Lake

Sep 6, 2023, 10:48 AM | Updated: 5:16 pm

The Great Salt Lake and its shore are the subject of a lawsuit filed by environmentalists and conse...

The Great Salt Lake. Utah is being sued by conservationists for not adequately protecting the lake and allowing too many upstream diversions. (Adam Small/KSL NewsRadio)

(Adam Small/KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Center for Biological Diversity, a conservation group, announced a lawsuit on Wednesday against the state of Utah for its alleged failure to do enough to protect the Great Salt Lake.

The lawsuit alleged that the state hasn’t done enough to ensure there’s enough water in the lake to prevent “ecological collapse.”

The lawsuit, filed by Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, the American Bird Conservancy, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, and the Utah Rivers Council, outlined concerns over the lake’s decline.

The disappearance of the Great Salt Lake would destroy the habitats of local wildlife, endanger the industries that rely on the lake, and by extension endanger the jobs of many Utahns, according to the lawsuit.

Read the lawsuit:

Great Salt Lake 2023 Lawsuit by Samantha Herrera on Scribd

 

Failure to get more water to the lake — by preventing upstream diversions — will also pose a “major public health threat,” the lawsuit alleged, due to the exposed lakebed.

The conservancy groups asked for a court order that would force the state to stop the lake’s declining water levels within two years. 

Additionally, the lawsuit asked that the state restore the lake’s water levels to a healthy amount within 10 years.

State’s reaction to the Great Salt Lake lawsuit

KSL NewsRadio obtained a statement from House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, on the lawsuit. It reads as follows:

“The health and long-term sustainability of the Great Salt Lake is one of the most significant challenges facing our state. Over the last several years, the Utah Legislature has taken extraordinary measures to address declining lake levels and raise public awareness of the profound consequences a drying lake would have on Utahns’ quality of life.

“We have passed groundbreaking legislation which has elevated the discussion of the lake to a level unthinkable even a decade ago and have invested over $1 billion dollars in water conservation measures aimed at getting more water to the lake.

“We have a responsibility to the public to protect and conserve our state’s natural resources, but effectively managing a resource like the Great Salt Lake is a delicate balance. We will continue to ensure the health of the lake is a priority for policymakers as we work toward actionable solutions which also recognize the existing rights of all water users.”

KSL News Radio also reached out to the Governor’s Office for comment. But was told they don’t comment on on-going litigation.

Aimee Cobabe contributed to this story.

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Lawsuit alleges that Utah is failing to protect the Great Salt Lake