HomeUS News updateGreat Salt Lake still at risk despite influx of snow and cash

Great Salt Lake still at risk despite influx of snow and cash

“He’s completely wrong about what we did and the impact it’s going to have on the lake,” said Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson.

“This is the second year of what I think will be a 10-year effort,” Wilson said. “We accomplished everything we set out to do and more. I feel really good about what we’ve done and where we are with Lake.

Last fall, the Great Salt Lake’s water level reached its lowest level ever. More concerning, the lake’s salinity rose to a level that left scientists unsure how long-lived organisms at the base of the food web—brine flies and brine shrimp adapted to extreme conditions—could hang on.

In January, Abbott and other scientists and conservationists released a report saying that the lake needed “emergency measures” to stop its “ongoing decline” and that “the lake as we know it could be lost in five years”. is on its way to extinction.”

The results are huge.

Each year, approximately 10 million migratory birds – of more than 300 species – depend on the lake’s habitat for survival. Low water levels threaten many industries including mining companies, which evaporate the lake’s brine to extract metals, and commercial producers farming brine shrimp, which are used in aquaculture.

As the lake dries up, more unhealthy dust is expected to blow into communities near the lake. Scientists are concerned because the dust contains toxic metals.

In January, scientists and politicians said this winter could be a turning point.

Utah’s accounts were overflowing with billions in unexpected revenue, and lawmakers promised they would spend liberally on the lake. The good snow year boosted the level of the lake.

In his budget, Cox proposed that Utah spend more than $560 million on water improvements, including $100 million to address the emergency and purchase short-term agricultural water leases and “cow” water for the Great Salt Lake .

When the legislative dust settled in March, lawmakers agreed to spend well north of $400 million in ongoing and one-time funding for the Great Salt Lake and Water Conservancy, according to a list of budget appropriations .

Lawmakers used $200 million to fund a program to optimize agricultural water use and invest in cloud seeding and water metering infrastructure. He funded studies of dust and air quality and created a new state office: the Great Salt Lake Commissioner.

Lawmakers passed a bill to encourage sod removal and efficient landscaping, a bill to ban water reuse in the Great Salt Lake Basin so that more water flows into the lake, and a bill to ensure A bill should be passed that states should have emergency powers when ecological or salinity limits are crossed.

Lawmakers chose not to set a specific target for lake levels or spend millions of dollars to raise lake levels by purchasing short-term water rights.

Some argued that such emergency measures were not necessary.

“We had an emergency plan that would provide enough water, in my opinion, to save the ecology of the lake,” state Sen. Scott Sandel said during a recorded media event. “Mother Nature helped us. We didn’t have to pull that lever for emergency use.”



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