GREAT SALT LAKE

Gov. Cox suspends new water rights in the Great Salt Lake Basin

Nov 3, 2022, 6:20 PM | Updated: Nov 4, 2022, 6:44 pm

Great Salt Lake shoreline...

This image shows the growing shoreline of the shrinking Great Salt Lake. (KSL TV)

(KSL TV)

 This article is published through the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that partners news, education and media organizations to help inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake — and what can be done to make a difference before it is too late.

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox issued a proclamation Thursday that puts new water rights applications on hold in the Great Salt Lake Basin for the time being.

A news release states the temporary suspension allowed existing water rights and applications to use the current water supply more efficiently.

Governor Cox Proclamation by Cary on Scribd

This comes as the state is spending millions on programs to save the Great Salt Lake with water levels dropping to record low levels.

The Great Salt Lake Basin includes the Bear, Weber, and Jordan River basins and the body of the Great Salt Lake.

House Speaker Brad Wilson called Cox’s proclamation a move in the right direction. “Saving the Great Salt Lake and protecting our available water sources is no small task and will require significant efforts from all Utahns – government, organizations, businesses, and individuals.”

The proclamation pauses future appropriations of surface and groundwater stream into the Great Salt Lake, according to the news release.

Researchers are worried about metals in the Great Salt Lake ecosystem

Earlier this year the legislature approved measures to protect and preserve the lake. The governor’s news release said this pause will give time for those conservation measures to be put in place and work on further research.

“This past legislative session, we approved $40 million for Great Salt Lake restoration,” Senate President J. Stuart Adams said. “This was part of a historic investment that allocated nearly $500 million to water infrastructure, planning and management, effectively changing decades of major water policy in Utah. We are committed to doing more to preserve and protect this critical resource.”

KSLTV.com has reported extensively about the negative impacts the drying Great Salt Lake has on Utah’s economy, air quality, and ecosystems.

“By protecting the lake, we help our economy, environment, wildlife and future,” Cox said.

The release said there are exceptions for applications that propose nonconsumptive uses, applications that include a mitigation plan to offset depletion, and applications for small amounts of water associated with individual domestic uses. It also excludes areas of Tooele County and the West Desert outside the surveyed meander line of Great Salt Lake.

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Gov. Cox suspends new water rights in the Great Salt Lake Basin