On the Site:


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

Local News

Texas longhorn cattle walk through downtown Salt Lake City during a cattle drive to kick off the Da...

Karah Brackin

Longhorns take to SLC streets for Days of ’47 cattle parade

If you thought you saw longhorns walking through the streets of downtown Salt Lake City on Thursday, you would be correct!

2 hours ago

The father, stepmother and brother of an emaciated 12-year-old West Haven boy who died earlier this...

Pat Reavy, KSL.com

3 family members arrested, accused of causing death of emaciated 12-year-old boy

The father, stepmother and older brother of a 12-year-old West Haven boy who died on July 9 have been arrested and are accused of causing the boy's death following years of abuse.

3 hours ago

Fire crews respond to a brush fire on the east bench of Provo near Summit Drive and Ridge Drive on ...

Daniel Woodruff and Josh Ellis, KSL TV

Crews battle brush fire in Provo; 2nd fire reported near rec center

Firefighters are battling a brush fire that is burning on the east bench of Provo.

3 hours ago

(Emery County Sheriff's Office)...

Andrew Adams

Volunteers: Technical rescue needed to save man at Zero Gravity slot canyon in Emery County

Volunteers said it took a technical rescue to free a stuck man from an extremely tight spot in Zero Gravity slot canyon.

4 hours ago

As part of their proposed 2024-25 budgets, numerous locales and taxing entities throughout Utah are...

Tim Vandenack, Cassidy Wixom, Bridger Beal-Cvetko and Emma Everett, KSL.com

See which Wasatch Front cities, districts are proposing new tax hikes

City and school officials and leaders of other Utah taxing entities are preparing and finalizing spending plans for the new fiscal year.

4 hours ago

An American Fork couple found dead in their home of a murder-suicide last month apparently had "dra...

Pat Reavy, KSL.com

‘I think my dad killed my mom,’ man says in 911 call of American Fork murder-suicide

Last month, an American Fork couple who had been married for over 30 years and had six children together were found dead inside their home.

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

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