Today, Reps. Chris Stewart (UT-02) and Burgess Owens (UT-04) introduced the Great Salt Lake Recovery Act, legislation to study historic drought conditions and protect the long-term health of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Earlier this month, the Great Salt Lake dropped to its lowest level on record for the second time in a year, posing a threat to Utah's environment and economy. This legislation builds on conservation actions taken by the Utah legislature in the 2022 legislative session, including the designation of $40 million for the Great Salt Lake watershed enhancement program. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
"The Great Salt Lake is synonymous with the Beehive State," said Congressman Stewart. "And it's our responsibility to ensure this staple of our community is maintained, preserved, and protected for the people of Utah. This month, the lake dropped to its lowest level ever--a grim milestone to the wildlife, people, and industries along its receding shores. State and local officials are hard at work to save the lake and support those who rely on it, but reversing this trend will take a collective effort. This legislation is a great first step toward finding a solution, but our work is far from over."
"The Great Salt Lake is integral to Utah's ecosystem and landscape. Historic drought conditions have threatened this treasure, and time is running out. I am proud to support the Great Salt Lake Recovery Act because it is a crucial step to understanding and protecting this fragile resource," said Congressman Owens.
"Utah's iconic Great Salt Lake is currently at the lowest levels ever recorded--for the second time in less than a year," Senator Romney said. "It is incumbent on us to take action now which will preserve and protect this critical body of water for many generations to come. By authorizing a feasibility study on addressing the historic drought conditions of the Great Salt Lake, this legislation complements and elevates the work already being done by the State of Utah to develop a permanent solution to save our Great Salt Lake."
"For years, our strategy to address a receding Great Salt Lake has been to hope for water levels to rise. We are now at a crisis point and if we want to find a solution, hope can no longer be our strategy--we must explore every option to get more water to the lake than ever before," said Utah Speaker of the House Brad Wilson.
"The Great Salt Lake is iconic when you think of Utah. As one of the state's many resources, we must do all we can to preserve it for the benefit of the citizens of Utah. The current drought has put a strain on the upstream flows that have historically fed the lake. Being able to study ways to increase water supply while protecting the delicate ecosystem will help us understand the best ways we can preserve this often overlooked resource," said Director of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands Jamie Barnes.
The Great Salt Lake Recovery Act builds on Utah's efforts to address the historic drought conditions of the Great Salt Lake and other saline lakes in the Great Basin by:
Authorizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out a program to monitor and assess the water availability and conditions of saline lakes in the Great Basin, including the Great Salt Lake, in order to help inform management and conservation activities for these ecosystems. The Corps will coordinate with relevant federal and state agencies, tribes, local governments, and nonprofits to implement the program. The bill authorizes $10,000,000 for this program.
Authorizing a feasibility study on addressing drought conditions in the Great Salt Lake, which may include an identification of any potential technologies--including pipelines, coastal desalination plants, and canal reinforcement--capable of redirecting water sources and necessary permitting to redirect water sources across state borders.