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.”
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.