Great Salt Lake Summit: Utahns saved 9 billion gallons of water this summer

Oct 13, 2022, 7:15 PM | Updated: Oct 14, 2022, 11:54 am

OGDEN, Utah — Conservation continues to be the most effective and cheapest solution for saving the shrinking Great Salt Lake. That was the most common concept shared today as Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson hosted the Second Annual Great Salt Lake Summit.

The summit highlighted measures that are working, and ideas worth exploring.

Right now, the Great Salt Lake is at its shallowest depth in history. That’s why several speakers at the summit said all reasonable solutions are on the table.

“This truly is an all hands on deck moment,” said Joel Ferry, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources. “And, I would make a call out to every citizen in the state of Utah to do your part.”

Ferry said every gallon matters, and many Utahns act that way.

They collectively saved 9 billion gallons of water during the summer through voluntary conservation.

“Conservation has to be our first choice across-the-board, period. Not only does it have to be our first choice it’s actually the most cost-effective choice. So, before we get to where we’re spending tens of billions of dollars building pipes somewhere let’s do conservation,” Ferry said.

No single solution will restore the lake to greater depths.

“We need to explore every option,” he said. “We need to explore options of going to the Midwestern states if they have excess water and see if we can enter in a contract with them.”

He said, that’s a long shot, but they need to brainstorm.

In a series of panel discussions, key players in Utah water policy talked about everything from more ways to conserve water in agriculture, businesses, and our homes.. to more creative and costly solutions like cloud seeding, and bringing water from out of state.

“A lot of the low-hanging fruit is getting close to being picked,” said Wilson, who hosted the event. “This is going to get trickier. It’s going to get harder. But, what I think will make the difference over the long term is we continue to see Utahns do what they’ve done this year.”

A recent poll by the Deseret News showed 80% of Utahns are concerned about the lake, and nearly that number (73%) think we should continue to invest in solutions. So, Utahns are engaged.

Last winter, Utah lawmakers invested a half billion dollars in conservation measures that took effect in July.

“You’ll see another year this coming session where there’s going to be a significant investment in water conservation and all of the things around that and they will help preserve and protect the Great Salt Lake,” Wilson said.

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Great Salt Lake Summit: Utahns saved 9 billion gallons of water this summer