Jake Vander Laan

Great Salt Lake Coordinator

Utah Division of Water Quality 


Jake coordinates the Utah Division of Water Quality’s Great Salt Lake water quality and freshwater lake assessment programs. He has a B.S. in Environmental Science from Northern Michigan University and an M.S. in Aquatic Ecology from Utah State University. Jake joined DWQ in 2015 following work as a research associate at Utah State University.

Title: The Great Salt Lake Salinity Advisory Committee

Abstract: Recent modifications to the Union Pacific Railroad causeway in conjunction with near-record low water levels in Great Salt Lake have raised many questions and concerns about the long-term transfer of salt and water through the causeway and potential impacts from changing salinity in the lake. The Great Salt Lake Salinity Advisory Committee (SAC) was first formed in 2017 with the objective of providing recommendations for long-term management of water and salt transfer through the Union Pacific Railroad causeway and long-term management of the salinity of Great Salt Lake. This presentation will describe the genesis of the SAC, its members, its goals and objectives, and its roadmap going forward.


Why We Care

  • The whole environment of Great Salt Lake is a place of wonder. Life abounds in water, on islands, and about the marshland edges where migratory birds find refuge during long flights north and south. It is also a source of income for companies around its rim (unfortunately). Challenges for the Lake today are balancing acts. We must continue to foster the generous gifts the Lake provides for wildlife, community, and visitors as well as make peace with the human intrusions that threaten not only the Lake’s beauty, but also its very existence as the bountiful center of a thriving community along the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains.

    Maurine Haltiner, Alfred Lambourne Prize Participant