February 19, 2020

More money sought for ailing Utah Lake, drying Great Salt Lake

What will help these struggling lakes?

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue@Amyjoi16  Feb 17, 2020, 5:45pm MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A pair of funding requests before a Utah legislative subcommittee aim to boost coordination and research efforts when it comes to the health of Utah Lake and the Great Salt Lake.

Efforts to help the Great Salt Lake are multifaceted, with multiple state entities involved, as well as an advisory council, research groups, advocates and universities.

Rep. Stewart Barlow, R-Fruit Heights, told the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday the focus is admirable, but more is needed with a coordinator who can sew it all together.

“The Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands is being overrun with these issues that are on the Great Salt Lake, and this coordinator can pull all these different groups together and act as a repository for information over time,” Barlow said.

Barlow said $110,000 for a full-time state coordinator for the Great Salt Lake will further bolster Utah’s efforts to help the lake and its ecosystem.

The Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the Western hemisphere and the eighth-largest terminal lake in the world, reached record low levels in recent years and faces more diversions from its tributaries in the future. One study put the economic value of lake at $1.3 billion, but its role in atmospheric chemistry — such as lake effect snow and air pollution — is just now beginning to be understood.

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