GREAT SALT LAKE

Utah Lake release sends 300 million gallons of water a day into the Great Salt Lake

Feb 8, 2024, 6:33 PM | Updated: Feb 10, 2024, 12:06 pm

Editor’s note: 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. Read all of our stories at greatsaltlakenews.org.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Utah Lake control gates in Saratoga Springs opened Thursday morning to release water into the Great Salt Lake.

“We’re releasing about 300 million gallons of water every day here,” said Wade Tuft, water supply manager for the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District.

After last winter’s exceptional snowpack, and this season’s great start, Utah Lake is full.

A court order from the 1980s calls for the control gates to be opened whenever Utah Lake reaches a certain level.

Back then, many communities were flooded because of the full lake and after litigation, the order was made.

“2011 was the last time Utah Lake hit the full compromised level that we’re at today,” Tuft said.

Since there’s no need for irrigation this time of year, nothing is stopping it all from flowing down the Jordan River.

“So, everything that is released should eventually get its way to the Great Salt Lake,” Tuft added.

That is great news for the Great Salt Lake.

“Anytime, especially right now, anytime we can get more water in the Great Salt Lake, it’s a good sign,” said Chase McDonald, an engineer with the Utah Division of Water Rights.

Even after releasing 300 million gallons of water a day for a month, will that make a difference in Great Salt Lake levels?

Probably not.

“The reality of it is, for the Great Salt Lake, it’s not going to make much of an impact overall,” Tuft said.

According to Tuft, projections show the amount of water released at Utah Lake will equal about 30,000-acre feet.

The Great Salt Lake holds close to 14-million-acre feet of water.

“In terms of an impact, it’s not going to be huge, but every little bit helps at this point,” Tuft said.

It’s why conservation efforts are still going to be important this year, to help the Great Salt Lake as much as possible.

“We’re all involved in this one way or the other,” Tuft said.

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Utah Lake release sends 300 million gallons of water a day into the Great Salt Lake