The Great Salt Lake getting billions of gallons of water

May 11, 2023, 5:27 PM | Updated: 11:05 pm

OGDEN, Utah — The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District opened up a spillway Thursday that is now releasing billions of gallons of water into the Great Salt Lake.

That spillway is open because Willard Bay is about 90% full.

The water will keep running for three to four more weeks, but there is still a push from water managers and others to keep conserving.

It’s the difference a year can make, how we can go from severe drought to seemingly plentiful times.

“We’ve got to get water from the mountains to the Great Salt Lake in an orderly fashion without major flooding,” Scott Paxman said. He is the General Manager of the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District. “We get one of these years about every ten years.”

The Willard Bay spillway opened and started sending billions of gallons of water to the Great Salt Lake. (KSL TV) The Willard Bay spillway opened and started sending billions of gallons of water to the Great Salt Lake. (KSL TV) The Willard Bay spillway opened and started sending billions of gallons of water to the Great Salt Lake. (Deseret News) The Willard Bay spillway opened on May 11, 2023 and started sending billions of gallons of water to the Great Salt Lake. (KSL TV) The Willard Bay spillway opened and started sending billions of gallons of water to the Great Salt Lake. (KSL TV)

He said Thursday’s release combined with another off the Weber River, will send a few billion gallons of fresh water into the Great Salt Lake every day.

“And not only that, but this goes out to the Willard Spur which typically, because of the level of the lake, it won’t see water for years,” Paxman said.

That water is important for replenishing wetlands and bird refuge areas.

“They freshen the water and improve the water quality and provide the right conditions for vegetation and bugs that migratory birds need,” Marcelle Shoop, of the Saline Lakes Program and National Audubon Society said.

But just as quickly as these areas can be restored, we will find ourselves in need again.

Sen. Scott Sandall (R) Tremonton said, “We’ve got to keep it in people’s vision the fact that we live in the second driest state in the Nation.”

State leaders and water managers continue to push the message to conserve.

“When our reservoirs are full, we can have enough water for two years of deliveries, a long ways from having enough water,” Paxman said.

Shoop added, “We still need to look for ways to continue to keep our water flowing to the Great Salt Lake.”

As our populations and demand for water continue to grow it’s important to find ways to restore these waters each year knowing we can’t depend on these once-in-a-decade moments.

Sandall said, “We’ve got to allocate the scarce resource that water is better.”

This release of water will continue as the runoff starts to slow down giving time to fill up the reservoirs upstream and Willard Bay.

Paxman said the last time we had full reservoirs was in 2014.

KSL 5 TV Live

Utah's Flood Watch

Crews work on flood mitigation in Eagle Mountain...

Brittany Tait

Eagle Mountain’s project to reduce flooding threat

After an unseasonably rainy spring, certain neighborhoods in Eagle Mountain witnessed multiple floods. 

3 months ago

A man skateboards with an umbrella as it rains in Salt Lake City on Aug. 22. Utah water officials s...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

How impactful have this year’s monsoons been for Utah’s water supply?

Utah's monsoon season is slowly winding down, but not before leaving an impact on Utah's reservoirs in various ways.

3 months ago

A line of storms rolls through Salt Lake Valley on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. (Spenser Heaps/ Deseret...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

Flood watches, wind advisories issued as Hilary’s remnants eke past Utah

Several flood and high wind advisories remain in effect throughout Utah most of Monday, and even into Tuesday, as the remnants of Hurricane Hilary move through parts of Utah.

4 months ago

Sandbags were stacked at the Intermountain hospital in Cedar City as the area expected more floodin...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Cedar City braces for more flash flooding

Preparations were underway Friday for flash flooding in parts of Southern Utah, as communities like Cedar City work to make sure they don’t get a repeat of what the storms brought Thursday.

4 months ago

Hurricane Hilary...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

UPDATE: How much will tropical storm Hilary impact Utah?

UPDATE: Hilary has been downgraded to a tropical storm since this article was published. Though, it still poses major threats to some areas of deadly rainfall along the western U.S.. Estimates on its impact in Utah as detailed below should still be precautioned. SALT LAKE CITY — Hurricane Hilary is expected to provide significant rainfall […]

4 months ago

The Fremont River Trail in Capitol Reef National Park is closed due to damage from Thursday's flash...

Larry D. Curtis and Josh Ellis, KSL TV

Flood watch issued for southern Utah; southwestern US prepares for Hurricane Hilary

Portions of central and southern Utah, including popular recreation areas, are under a flash flood watch issued by the National Weather Service ahead of a monsoon surge that will push into the state.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

The Great Salt Lake getting billions of gallons of water