Utah Lake managers to release excess water, may boost Great Salt Lake’s water levels

Feb 7, 2024, 2:30 PM

Utah lake shown, the lake is full...

Lincoln Beach and Utah Lake can be seen in the distance in Spanish Fork on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022. (Ben B. Braun/Deseret News)

(Ben B. Braun/Deseret News)

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah — Utah Lake is nearly full. As of Wednesday, the Utah Division of Water Resources reported, the lake was over 99% of capacity.

This is forcing managers to open the control gates in Saratoga Springs, which will dump millions of gallons of water into the Jordan River every day while it’s open. According to early estimates by the Utah Lake Water Users Association, the lake could release as much as 300 million gallons of water daily while the gates are open.

This abundance of water, set to start flowing into the Jordan River sometime this week, could provide a direct boost to the ailing Great Salt Lake to the north.

The Jordan River flows north all the way to Farmington Bay, which happens to be one of the biggest contributors to the toxic dust that’s getting kicked up in wind storms. So, not only could the lake get a boost, it could cover more of the exposed lakebed.

There’s no guarantee how much excess water will actually make it to the Great Salt Lake. But any that does is expected to directly impact the lake’s struggling water levels.

As of Wednesday, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Great Salt Lake is sitting at an elevation of 4,193 feet above sea level. That’s up roughly half a foot since the beginning of winter. However, the lake’s healthy range is 4,196 to 4,200, with 4,198 being the optimal level. Meaning the lake is still 5 feet shy of its optimal level.

How this water could make a difference

Great Salt Lake Commissioner Brian Steed addressed the media Wednesday. During this time, he said whatever water does reach the Great Salt Lake will not evaporate. This means it could have a direct impact on the low water levels.

Steed also said releasing water ahead of spring runoff not only creates room for reservoirs to catch this year’s snow water but also means we could lose less of it as it travels toward the Great Salt Lake.

“Sometimes in flood conditions…water managers will…open up all the headgates along the way down and water spills out into canals and into fields,” Steed said. “That’s all beneficial for a lot of things, but it may not be most beneficial for the lake.”

Steed also said they have asked every major water district that manages reservoirs upstream from Great Salt Lake to release whatever water they safely can to help boost lake levels.

It’s unclear if any districts will release water for Great Salt Lake, how much levels could rise, or if any water coming from Utah Lake will be diverted for any other purpose.


We want to hear from you.

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


A photo taken on the Saratoga Springs shore of Utah Lake on August 21, 2021. State lawmakers are co...

Tammy Kikuchi

A bill could improve Utah Lake and get more water into Great Salt Lake

State lawmakers say the goal of SB270 is to improve Utah Lake and direct more water into Great Salt Lake.

14 hours ago

texas wildfires...

Associated Press

Wildfire grows into one of largest in Texas history as flames menace multiple small towns

Known as the Smokehouse Creek Fire, the largest blaze expanded to more than 1,300 square miles and jumped into parts of neighboring Oklahoma.

16 hours ago

FILE: Jerry Monson helps his grandson Logan Webb with his orange while in camp above the Strawberry...

Alexandrea Bonilla

Bill would reduce amount of orange Utah hunters must wear

A bill would reduce the amount of orange required by hunters.

17 hours ago

CLIFFE, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 13: Plastic and other detritus lines the shoreline of the Thames e...

Mariah Maynes

Why and how to reduce single-use plastic consumption in your life

Smithsonian Magazine reported that the United States produced 40 million tons of plastic waste in 2021. Only about two million tons were recycled, however.

22 hours ago

Cars drive on I-80 with a snowy mountain backdrop after snowstorms hit the Wasatch Front throughout...

Adam Small

Overnight storm clearing out but another storm is on the way

The overnight storm that hit northern Utah has mostly cleared however, another storm expected this weekend.

2 days ago

After starting the new year with poor air quality, Utah may finally be able to take a breath and fi...

Heather Peterson

New black carbon sensor is more portable but just as accurate, study finds

A new study from the University of Utah finds that recently released black carbon new units are just as accurate in detecting black carbon, but they are more portable and affordable.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

overhead view of a few aisles in a department store...

Big Deal Outlet

There is a Big Deal coming to Midvale: Local discount chain opens 8th store

If you love the thrill of finding good deals, check out the grand opening of Big Deal Outlet in Midvale from February 29 - March 2.

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.

Utah Lake managers to release excess water, may boost Great Salt Lake’s water levels