Lawmakers unveil a pair of bills aimed at restoring the Great Salt Lake

Jan 25, 2023, 6:17 PM | Updated: 6:46 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Two Utah lawmakers unveiled a pair of bills aimed at protecting and restoring an optimal water level in the Great Salt Lake. One bill would establish a restoration level for the lake, and the other would raise money to continue the work. 

Last year, the Utah Legislature made historic appropriations to help restore the Great Salt Lake and keep it from dropping any further. These bills would set a target level for restoration and divert tax money to buy water rights and pay for other work.

“We all want to save the Great Salt Lake. But, what does that mean?” said Zach Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council.

Utah residents and lawmakers agree that protecting the lake is a priority, but the state has no specific goal or water level by which to measure success. 

“It is a big responsibility for us to protect what is one of the most important wetland habitats in the entire world,” Frankel said at a press conference with official lawmakers Wednesday afternoon.

The Utah Rivers Council worked on these bills with Rep. Joel Briscoe, Salt Lake and Sen. Nate Blouin, Salt Lake.

Sen. Blouin’s bill would set an official state goal to protect the Great Salt Lake. 

“We’ve set up a great framework that’s going to get water back to the lake,” he said. “But we haven’t established a target that gives us an over arching goal to work towards.“

Right now, the lake sits at 4189 feet, nine feet below what is considered the minimum healthy level, according to scientists.

“It’s time that we set a goal that we can work towards and celebrate when we get there,” Blouin said. “This resolution will establish an official goal to raise the lake level to at least 4198 feet.“

The last time the lake reached that level was 11 years ago.

Briscoe’s Bill, the Great Salt Lake Funding Modifications Bill, would redirect $60 million in existing annual sales tax collections to a fund to restore the Great Salt Lake. The money would be diverted for five years, for a total of $300 million.

“So that FFSL — Forestry, Fire and State Lands — and the Division of Natural Resources will have funds to work with in their project of the Great Salt Lake restoration without raising taxes or fees,” Briscoe said. 

Since 2015, that money has gone into a fund to pay for future construction of the Lake Powell pipeline and Bear River development. So, diverting that money will likely require negotiation. Right now, that fund has $180 million in it.

“The crisis now is the great Salt Lake, it is not bringing water to Washington County, or to the Wasatch Front from the Bear River,” he said. 

 KSL will keep an eye on these bills and let you know when they are up for consideration. 

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

FILE - A rock formation in Arches National Park in the Devil's Garden area (Larry D. Curtis/KSL TV)...
Eliza Pace

Family of woman killed by gate at Arches National Park awarded $10.2 million

A Judge awarded $10.2 million to the family and spouse of  Esther "Essie" Nakajigo, who was killed by an unsecured gate at Arches National Park in 2020. 
18 hours ago
Nicole Schmidt speaks at a press conference...
Bridger Beal-Cvetko

Gabby Petito’s parents urge support for Utah domestic violence bill

Gabby Petito's parents joined Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson at the state Capitol to advocate for SB117, which would require police to conduct lethality assessments.
18 hours ago
FILE PHOTO (Grand County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)...
Pat Reavy

Utah corrections officer charged with sharing inappropriate photo of inmate

A corrections officer with the Grand County Sheriff's Office was charged Monday after allegedly taking an inappropriate photo of an inmate and sharing it with a co-worker.
18 hours ago
(Utah Highway Patrol)...
Madison Swenson

19-year-old dies at hospital following crash in Uintah County

One person has died from their injuries following a crash on U.S. Highway 40 in Uintah County.
18 hours ago
Exterior rendering of the Port Vila Vanuatu Temple. (Intellectual Reserve, Inc.)...
Madison Swenson

Groundbreaking date announced for Port Vila Vanuata Temple

A groundbreaking date has been announced for the Port Vila Vanuata Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
18 hours ago
The booking photo for Jami Farmer. (Lincoln County Sheriff’ Office)...
Michael Houck

Nevada attempted murder suspect arrested in Washington County

An attempted murder suspect from Nevada is in police custody after being found at a Utah gas station Monday.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Lawmakers unveil a pair of bills aimed at restoring the Great Salt Lake