Great Salt Lake leaders ask reservoir managers to release excess water

Jan 23, 2024, 5:36 PM | Updated: May 15, 2024, 12:27 pm

Great Salt Lake shown, a new bill would help the lake during good water years...

FILE: Great Salt Lake in August 2023. (Adam Small/KSL NewsRadio)

(Adam Small/KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY— Great Salt Lake Commissioner Brian Steed and his office are reaching out to reservoir managers to see if they have any water to spare for Great Salt Lake.

Utah’s largest body of water and the eighth-largest saline lake in the world is still in dire need of a boost. Last year’s spring runoff helped the lake rise 5.5 feet after it hit its lowest level on record in November 2022.

The lake dropped only 1.9 feet in 2023. But today it still sits about 5.5 feet shy of its optimum healthy level of 4,198 feet above sea level. That’s according to the latest measurements provided by the U.S. Geological survey.

How reservoirs can help

Utah’s reservoirs catch and hold exactly what Great Salt Lake needs to thrive: fresh water produced by winter snow in Utah’s mountains. Currently, reservoirs across Utah are 80% full, on average. According to KSL.com that is 23% more than the reservoirs have in a typical January.

While reservoir water is mainly used for human consumption, there may be enough to release directly to Great Salt Lake, which sits downstream of the reservoirs along the Wasatch Front. Most all of any excess or flood water along the Wasatch Front finds it’s way to Great Salt Lake.

Can this be done without depleting the water we need in our homes?

In short, the answer is still up in the air. Deputy Great Salt Lake Commissioner Tim Davis told KSL Newsradio they have reached out to several upstream reservoir managers asking them to figure out if they have any water they can spare for the lake.

Davis said it shouldn’t take long to figure out how much or if they can send any water downstream, but, if they can, it would give a direct boost to Great Salt Lake.

“It will take all of us conserving water, moving water and wet years…to get the lake back to a healthy level,” Davis said.

Davis also said if any reservoirs can release water, they want to do that before Spring runoff begins in April. This way, farmers and other people won’t need to pull any out and it would open up more space for reservoirs to catch water once this year’s snowpack melts. In theory, it could help prevent some forms of potential flooding.

The Great Salt Lake Commissioner’s Office recently released it’s strategic plan to save Great Salt Lake and preserve it over the decades to come. Davis said two of the biggest things that needed to make that happen is conservation and taking advantage of wet years in preparation for dry ones.

Getting Great Salt Lake back to it’s optimum level of 4,198 feet above sea level could take years, even decades.  But, Davis said he’s optimistic we can get there if we do what they’ve outlined in their plan.

“We’re all in this together,” Davis said.


Could farmers sell their water to the Great Salt Lake?

Great Salt Lake managers holding out hope following slow start to winter snowfall

We want to hear from you.

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


Bryonia, also known as bryony, is a weed that is part of the cucumber family. It looks very similar...

Michelle Lee

How to control the noxious bryonia weed

Do you have bryonia creeping up in your yard? If you do, be very careful because this white poisonous weed can be extremely noxious. Here are some tips on how to identify and control it.

3 hours ago

Workers with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources help move a moose safely from near the mouth o...

Esme Sanchez Estevez

A cow moose is safely moved from Spanish Fork Canyon

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said she was safely tranquilized and moved to a more "moose appropriate" habitat.

14 hours ago

Salt lake city hit a record number of 100 degree days and the state is close to the all-time highes...

Simone Seikaly

Salt Lake City hit 100 degrees Thursday, first time in 2024

Portions of southern Utah were under a Red Flag Warning through 9 p.m. Thursday night.

17 hours ago

The Glen Canyon Dam holds back the waters of Lake Powell in Page, Arizona, on July 18, 2022....

Adam Small

Lake Powell missing 40,000 acre feet of water after accidental release, officials say

Lake Powell is the nation's second-largest reservoir, and it's currently missing up to 40,000-acre feet of water due to a water release.

19 hours ago

A view of the state Capitol and the Salt Lake City skyline....

Andrew Gordon

High temps bring warnings and ozone problems to Utah

Utah's high temperatures have brought on the hottest day of the year so far in the state, along with warnings and ozone issues.

20 hours ago

new baby gorilla at Hogle Zoo, Addo (Hogle Zoo)...

Diana Jones

Hogle Zoo announces name of baby gorilla

The Hogle Zoo has announced the newest addition to their gorilla family, Addo. Mom and baby are reported to be doing well. 

21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Great Salt Lake leaders ask reservoir managers to release excess water