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Great Salt Lake News

This week, you'll find more on:

  • A dire warning,

  • Potential solutions,

  • Turf buyback in Utah, 

  • Water levels, and more!

Editor's Note

Dear readers,

You’ve probably heard the news that a group of Utah scientists have issued a dire warning that the Great Salt Lake could disappear as we know it within 5 years if the state doesn’t take drastic action today. 

But have you heard of their potential solutions? 

Our partner, Utah Public Radio, interviewed two of the authors of the report on the program Access Utah. You can listen to the full interview here. I learned the causes for the lake losing 75% of its water and how much it needs to be healthy, why the lake doesn’t have a right to clean water. And that Utah Lake may point the way to a solution. 

Here is a partial list of the proposed solutions:

  • Permanently allocate the lake “its fair share of water.”

  • Authorize emergency water releases from reservoirs to increase streamflow to the lake this year and 2024. 

  • Promote “water heroes” who conserve the most.

  • Set conservation goals before water is allocated.

  • Contact every water user in the watershed to offer conservation resources, legal briefings on new water laws.

  • Offer farmers compensation for not growing crops in 2023 and 2024 and support rapid transitions away from water-intensive alfalfa.

  • Create a “law of the lake” framework with shortfall contingencies with water users and conservancy districts.

  • Ensure water conserved through agricultural optimization is permanently designated for the lake.

  • Remove property-tax subsidies for water use.

  • Expand turf removal programs.

  • Brief HOAs and homebuilders on Great Salt Lake and change city and county laws to encourage or require conservation.

The 2023 Utah Legislature started this week—and those ideas and more are sure to take center stage. We will be tracking GSL-related bills and giving you weekly updates through this newsletter. If you value what we do, please consider a donation.

As always, thank you for reading and for your ongoing support. 

– Heather May, project manager

The Salt Lake Tribune

Scientists sounded the alarm about the Great Salt Lake. Are lawmakers listening?

An emergency briefing warns of “unprecedented” danger to Utah’s public health, environment and economy if the Great Salt Lake does not receive a “dramatic” influx of water by 2024. Politicians have responded and said the lake is their priority. But will it be enough?

Full story
FOX 13

Utahns might get more green for their grass

Rep. Doug Owens, D-Millcreek, says he will file a bill to increase incentives for "turf buyback" programs in Utah. With a $12 million appropriation, he believes the state might be able to offer as much as $2 a square foot to get rid of what is called "nonfunctional turf," or lawn that is largely ornamental and sees no real use.

Full story
FOX 13

Utah governor says Great Salt Lake won't go dry

"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 about his priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

Full story

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In Your Own Words: “Lake Effect”

As we continue to report, we want to ensure that those closest to the issue are heard. Utah Public Radio is producing “Lake Effect,” an audio storytelling series about Utahns' relationships with the Great Salt Lake. 

This week's story comes from Aimee Van Tatenhove and Ellis Juhlin, who spoke about the impact the Great Salt Lake has on wildlife. Listen here.

Share your story

Throwback Thursday

The above photograph — courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society — shows women bathing at the Great Salt Lake's Blackrock Beach in 1887.

Have an old photo of the Great Salt Lake that you'd like to share? Email it to!

Submit your photo

Crowdsourcing solutions

We figure those who live near the Great Salt Lake know a thing or two about what should be done to save it. 

We asked you what you think should be done to get more water to the lake, and we received an astounding number of submissions — more than 500 ideas. Here's a sampling:

“Communities in Utah need to fund xeriscaping of yards and reduce grass coverage requirements on new construction. Keep the trees alive but cut out 70% of all grass.”
— Carrie Bryant

“Get more water from the Colorado River to the GSL through the Central Utah Project.”
— Ronald Woolley

“Great Salt Lake salt should be used to sanitize recycled water and then fed into the Great Salt Lake for consistent leveling.”
— David Sanders

“To the greatest extent possible, continuing to get information out to everyone possible, specifically those that can affect the amount of water reaching the lake in order to inform on the severity, scope and solutions which will, in turn, be cause for motivation to enact change.”
— Richard Steiner

Submit your solution

Great Salt Lake Water Levels

On Jan. 19, 2023, the Great Salt Lake was 4,189.1 above sea level.

Learn more

Get Involved!

The Great Salt Lake impacts our drinking water, snow, air quality, economy, ecology and more. It truly touches all aspects of Utahns' lives, and we want to ensure your voices are heard.

Get involved with the Great Salt Lake Collaborative by sharing your personal relationship with the lake or taking our survey

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