It’s time once again for all of us to come together to talk about our Lake.
Please contact me at email@example.com or at (801) 583-5593 if you have questions about sponsorship opportunities, registration, the poster session, student scholarships or anything else that you need to know so you can join us for this deep briny drink of Great Salt Lake.
Thanks for being a part of this Great Salt Lake celebration.
Student registration for the entire Issues Forum, including the Thursday evening banquet, is $70.
Because we believe the Issues Forum is an important experience and understand that students have limited means to attend conferences, we want to help.
If you are a student and need registration support, please contact Lynn de Freitas firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible for more details.
Susan Kirby, Spiral Jetty, Great Salt Lake
Every year since 2003, FRIENDS awards the Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship ($1,000) to a graduate or undergraduate student engaged in new or ongoing research that focuses on Great Salt Lake and/or the Lake ecosystem or watershed.
The scholarship was established in memory of Dr. Doyle W. Stephens (1944-2000) who was a research hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey. As a contributor to the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program that was initiated in 1996, Doyle’s work on Great Salt Lake brine shrimp ecology helped increase understanding about population dynamics of the shrimp in the Lake and factors affecting the structure and density of the population.
This year, the 2018 Doyle W. Stephens Award Ceremony will take place at the Great Salt Lake Issues Forum prior to the lunch break on Thursday, May 10th.
Congratulations to Katherine Barrett, University of Notre Dame, winner of the 2018 Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship for reasearch related to Great Salt Lake. Barrett's project titled, Linking Artemia To the Benthos: Do Microbialites Support Brine Shrimp Production in Great Salt Lake?, explores the connections among the Great Salt Lake food chain.
Charles Uibel, This Is Precious
My composition includes lyrics from Alfred Lambourne's "Our Inland Sea." As such, it is based on Lambourne's and my experiences at the lake. Lambourne provides descriptive imagery of the lake in winter, but also details his emotional response to being alone in the immense wilderness--a response that is similar to my own.
I lose my sense of time and place along the shore. The scenery mirrors scenery that came before, and yet there is always something new and beautiful! I go no where, despite walking miles, or the opposite: I travel miles without moving my feet. There is an all-encompassing sense of eternity by the water that is both inviting and isolating. It is this paradox I am attempting to convey through sound.
In music, meter and harmony keep time and movement. Thus, I use irregular meter and harmony to maintain stasis. Large block chords echo the expansive surroundings, while the singer voices Lamborne's solitude. The music converges on glissandi with the lyrics "waters." Thus, the rippling piano symbolizes the rippling water. The inner section reduces to a more intimate texture with an anxious chromatic bass line, serving to shift focus from the surroundings to the internal conflicts Lambourne describes in the corresponding text. Gradually the music expands, returning to block chords and the ultimate grandeur of the lake.
"Since 1883, the Alta Club has been the gathering place for Utah’s business, educational and political leaders. Originally modeled after the private club that flourished on the east and west costs in the late nineteenth century, the Alta Club has retained a traditional spirit while embracing the present. Located in the beautifully restored and historically significant Alta Club building in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, the Club will provide a unique experience of fine dining and a memorable experience.
Valet Service provided
The Friend of the Lake Award is given to an individual, organization, program or business performing outstanding work in education, research, advocacy and/or the arts to benefit Great Salt Lake.
There is a vibrant and active community of people working on behalf of the Lake. Their efforts help increase our understanding and awareness of our big salty neighbor which can lead to positive action for preservation of the ecosystem. To recognize these talents and contributions, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake established this award to be presented at our Biennial Great Salt Lake Issues Forum.
Steven E. Clyde, ClydeSnow, is recognized with this award for initiating a timely and important conversation about how we can bring water to Great Salt Lake. In a room filled with attorneys and water-purveyors at the October 2016 Utah Water Law Conference in Salt Lake City, Clyde delivered his white paper, Water Rights for Great Salt Lake -- is it the Impossible Dream? He argued that the Lake has a range of ecosystem services and values that must be honored; and that in the context of Utah water law, there are viable tools for bringing water to the Lake to sustain these values and to fulfill our stewardship responsbility for this unique and complex system.
Throughout his career, Mr. Clyde has specialized in natural resources law, including oil and gas, public land law, and mining law, with a primary emphasis in water law. Mr. Clyde has represented many clients in the buying and selling of water rights and in the conversion of water rights from agricultural irrigation use to domestic, municipal, and industrial use for development of real property, particularly in the resort areas of Summit County, Utah. He has represented parties in the negotiations of a Lease of Power Privilege on Bureau of Reclamation Facilities for the Central Utah Project and in the negotiation of power sales contracts from the hydroelectric facilities constructed under the lease. He is general counsel to the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, the sponsor of the Central Utah Project, and is knowledgeable regarding federal reclamation law.
Steven E. Clyde was recognized with the 2018 Friend of the Lake Award at the Great Salt Lake Issues Forum Banquet. Thank you, Steve, for being a champion for the Lake.
150 South Fort Douglas Blvd.
Salt Lake City, UT
We have arranged a block of rooms for out of town presenters and participants at the 2018 Great Salt Lake Issues Forum with the University Guest House (UGH). Please call the UGH at 801-587-1000 or 801-587-1000 (rather than registering online) to reserve your room; please indicate that you are with the Issues Forum/FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake group. The discounted group rate is $119 per night. The price will hold until Monday, April 9th, so please make your reservation as soon as possible.
UGH is located within a 5-10 minute walk of conference facilities.
This 180-room hotel on the historic Fort Douglas property features spectacular views of the Salt lake Valley and surrounding campus. Rooms have a single king or two queen-size beds, refrigerator, coffee maker, microwave, cable TV, iron & board, hair dryer, voicemail, and free wireless high speed Internet access. Amenities include free parking, free local phone calls, convenience store, fitness room, and laundry facilities. Your stay includes hot breakfast.
The hotel is located just 15 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City with direct service on TRAX light rail system. With close proximity to the city and the Wasatch Mountains, endless activities are available right out the front door of the University Guest House.
2018 Poster Session
The goal of the poster session is to feature biological, hydrological, geological, ecological, archaeological, historical, economic and/or planning issues pertinent to Great Salt Lake and its management.
Thanks to our 2018 Poster Session Participants.
PDF copies of the posters can be accessed here.
Poster Presentation Requirements
Poster dimensions should not exceed 3’ 9” x 3’ 9”. Size requirements must be strictly adhered to so they fit within the space assigned to them. If your poster exceeds these specifications, it may be subject to removal. Pins and display boards will be provided.
The posters were displayed from Wednesday, May 9th at 10 am removed by Friday, May 11th by 3:00 pm. Presenters were asked to stand by their posters Thursday, May 10th from 5 – 6 pm during the Poster Session Reception to answer questions and discuss their work with other attendees. If you have questions, please contact Danielle Aranda at email@example.com.
Gary Crandall, Tundra Swans
What does it say about Utah when our neighboring states think of us as the place where they can dump their nastiest garbage? Makes you proud, doesn’t it?
In a remote corner of Box Elder County, on the shores of Great Salt Lake, Promontory Point Resources, LLC, has applied for a Class V waste permit — a permit specifically designed to accept waste from out of state. But this isn’t household garbage we’re talking about here; this is bad stuff. This is California hazardous waste, which that state defines as “waste with a chemical composition or other properties that make it capable of causing illness, death, or some other harm to humans and other life forms.” Interestingly, California hazardous waste magically becomes non-hazardous once it crosses the Utah border.
It’s also coal ash from throughout the West and Midwest. Coal ash — or, as Utah calls it, coal combustion residual, is the by-product of burning coal to generate electricity and, depending on where the coal is mined, can contain all sorts of dangerous toxicants. These include arsenic, lead, mercury, antimony, boron… You get the picture.
The landfill would also be able to accept special wastes and small quantity generator hazardous wastes, such as low-level infectious waste, heavy metals, solvents and a variety of organic compounds like PCBs.
Here’s a puzzle. Why on earth would Box Elder County and the state not only allow, but actually encourage, the construction of a Class V landfill on the shores of Great Salt Lake and risk destroying one of the state’s iconic resources? Why isn’t there a buffer zone around the lake that ensures the protection of the lake against clearly inappropriate development such as this? Given that there’s over 2,000 years worth of Class V storage already existing in the state — 2,000 years! – surely there’s no reason to permit this facility.
FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake and our partnering organizations: Utah Audubon Council, Utah Airboat Association, Utah Waterfowl Association, Great Salt Lake Alliance, GSL Audubon, Western Resource Advocates, South Shore Wetlands & Wildlife Management, Inc., League of Women Voters of Salt Lake, National Audubon Society, Utah Sierra Club, HEALUtah, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, Utah Rivers Council, residents and business owners from Box Elder County, and our organizing partners, the Great Salt Lake Institute and Weber State University, will be hosting two public information meetings to discuss Promontory Point Resources, LLC Landfill and its application with the State Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control for a Class V waste permit -- a permit specifically designed to accept waste from out of state. Meetings will be held Monday, February 5 at Westminster College's Gore Auditorium and Tuesday, February 6 at Weber State University's Elizabeth Hall, room 229 from 6:30-8:00 PM
A Class V permit would allow the company to receive California Hazardous waste, which that state defines as "waste with a chemical composition or other properties that make it capable of causing illness, death, or some other harm to humans and other life forms." Waste would also include coal ash from throughout the West and Midwest. Coal ash, or as Utah calls it, Coal Combustion Residual, is the byproduct of burning coal to generate electricity. Depending on where the coal is mined, it can contain an array of dangerous toxicants, including arsenic, lead, mercury, antimony, and boron. The landfill would also be able to accept special wastes and small quantity generator hazardous wastes, such as low-level infectious waste, heavy metals, solvents, and a variety of organic compounds like PCBs.
Located on the south west tip of the Promontory Peninsula on the north shore of Great Salt Lake, the landfill operation brings great potential risks to the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem, a Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network Site for millions of migratory birds, and to the $1.3 billion in revenue that the Lake generates annually to the State of Utah.
A presentation on this issue will be provided by Allan Moore, Solid Waste Program Manager, Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control. The Division is currently evaluating the company's application for a Class V permit and will determine if a draft Class V permit will go out for public comment. Q&A session will be provided.
You can read more in the Winter 2018 FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake newsletter. Get involved. Come learn about this important issue and its long term implications to Great Salt Lake and all Utahns.
Winter 2018 -Executive Director’s Message-
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
- The Lorax
The lay of the land-
Less than 20 miles from Gunnison Island, a protected sanctuary for the third largest breeding population of American White Pelicans in North America. In the same neighborhood as Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty that was designated Utah’s Official State Work of Land Art in March 2017. Slightly more than 10 miles from the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge - Utah’s first national wildlife refuge established in 1928. And as the gull flies, about 25 miles southeast from the Golden Spike National Historic Monument, a popular tourist attraction that celebrates the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869.
Where our story continues-
In the Spring 2003 newsletter, I wrote about an ill-conceived proposal that promised to generate economic livelihood for Box Elder County by constructing the nation’s 4th largest landfill on the western flank of the southern tip of the Promontory Peninsula. The Promontory Peninsula is a misunderstood but impressive landscape that’s emblematic of the classic Basin and Range geomorphology. The extension of its magnificent reach of mountains and scrubby productive upland habitats creates a visually notable portion of the distinctive northern shoreline of Great Salt Lake. Its uplands possesses a prodigious array of raptors including American Bald Eagles, Burrowing Owls-a species that is included on the Utah Sensitive Species List, Long-billed Curlews, mule deer, waterfowl that take refuge on its eastern shoreline in Bear River Bay, and a passel of other critters that call this place home.
15 years ago, a Class I permit was being pursued by the applicant Promontory, LLC. Several other proposals for landfill sites in Box Elder County were also being considered but only this one rose to the top. The rationale for the landfill was based on projected expanding waste disposal needs of the rapidly growing population in northern Utah. A Class I permit means that contracts to accept waste can only be made with local governments and municipalities within Utah of wastes generated within those boundaries, along with approval by the Executive Secretary/Executive Director of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The waste stream that can be accepted consists of municipal, commercial, industrial, construction/demolition waste and special wastes and small quantity generator hazardous waste such as low level infectious waste, heavy metals, solvents, a variety of organic compounds like PCB’s that are conditional under certain regulatory codes within the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control (the Division) in DEQ.
The Box Elder County Planning Commission held a series of public hearings on the Promontory, LLC landfill. Objections and concerns were expressed about the obvious externalities that come with this type of land use. Many people including adjacent property owners within 1000’ of the proposed site, local citizens, conservation interests including FRIENDS, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, and a family owned Great Salt Lake mineral extraction operation in Gunnison Bay that produces mineral supplements for human consumption spoke to these issues. Among those concerns were fugitive trash that inevitably finds its way across the landscape, the relationship between air, land, and water contamination from wastes that can impact wildlife and the ecology of Great Salt Lake, and the need for yet another facility given available waste markets. And in general why did Box Elder County choose to promote this type of land use as an economic generator? Following a public commenting period through the Division, a Class I permit was issued in March 2004.
The writing on the wall-
In 2009, there was an ownership change. In 2011, the Class I permit was renewed. In 2014/15 another new ownership defaulted on its contract and so the permit reverted back to the prior owner. In 2016, Promontory Point Resources, LLC (the company) purchased the 2,000 acres and the Class I permit that came with it which is due to expire in 2021. Throughout this period of what could be construed as Utah’s very own version of a classic Marx Brothers movie, no ground on Promontory Peninsula was disturbed. The likely reason for this is because the market for in-state waste is already secured by 10 existing Utah landfill facilities that have a combined life storage capacity of 363 years. Included in this lot is the Box Elder County landfill that has its own Class I permit with existing capacity and room to expand if need be.
Clearly, as a business venture and an economic generator for Box Elder County, this prospect seemed to be going nowhere until May 2017, when earthmovers began carving up the landscape. So what changed?
In March 2017, two things happened. On March 10th during the 2017 General Session of the Utah State Legislature, (H.J.R.020) Joint Resolution Approving Class V Landfill for Promontory Point Resources, LLC sponsored by Rep. Lee B. Perry (Perry, UT) and Sen. Peter C. Knudson (Brigham City) became effective. And on March 17th the company submitted its application to the Division for a Class V permit. A Class V permit would allow the company to receive the same types of wastes as a Class I but from out of state, and with the addition of “special wastes as enumerated in the operation plan as defined in Utah Administrative Code, R 315-315. Initial disposal rates would be approximately 200,000 tons per year and approximately 750 tons per day. Depending on the waste sources, the volumes would increase annually.
The resolution “gives approval for the construction and operation of a Class V commercial nonhazardous solid waste landfill” for the company because “[it] would have favorable economic impact on Box Elder County in the form of new permanent jobs and host fees”. Note the “nonhazardous” category that is certainly debatable. Although H.J.R. 020 grants provisional approval of a Class V permit by the legislature, it is still contingent upon approval of the operational plan by Box Elder County, the Director of the Division, and requires the governor’s signature. What’s important to note here is that Utah already has 10 Class V permitted landfills with a collective waste storage capacity of more than 2,036-yrs. Once again this begs the question of whether taking more out of state waste is really the best way for Box Elder County to explore economic opportunities? And if so, then why does it need it to be adjacent to Great Salt Lake which is already recognized as an economic generator to the tune of $1.3B annually to Utah’s GDP?
Taking advantage of regulatory loopholes-
The company is in the process of carving out an unsightly blot on the landscape under a Class I permit but it has no intention of operating as a Class I facility because it’s not commercially viable. It’s able to do this because the construction requirements for Class I and Class V facilities are identical. And it’s taking advantage of an unfortunate loophole in the existing regulatory requirements that allows the construction of landfill facilities to begin even before contracts with waste providers have been secured. And even before a robust market analysis has been conducted to determine whether additional capacity for nonhazardous solid waste is even needed. It just can’t begin storing any wastes. This loophole allowed the company to get a jump start on the construction under the assumption that it would get its Class V permit in short order. Given that its already spent close to $16 million of state grant money in construction, the company probably felt getting the permit was a safe bet. The real money is in accepting out-of-state waste that nobody else wants – California Hazardous (Cal-Haz) waste, and coal ash (or in the regulatory jargon: coal combustion residual). This is especially true given the location’s ready access to a main east-west rail line. Apparently, there’s big money to be made storing the really nasty stuff.
Adding insult to injury, the company has begun the work without securing bonding arrangements to ensure that the state has funds to reckon with the landscape if the owners decide to walk. If wastes have been received, the state would have to relocate them. If not, the state would treat the site much like an abandoned building without reclamation of the land. Either way, taxpayers would be left holding the bag.
A “Needs Assessment Report” for the Class V permit was submitted by the company along with its application to the Division. A review for data validation and analysis by a third party to “fulfill the requirements of Section 19-6-108, subsections (10) and (11), of the Utah Solid and Hazardous Waste Act was completed on July 10, 2017. The findings are extremely troubling. “ Overall the analysis does not fully comply with the requirements of the Act as it is missing content to meet all statutory requirements, does not provide a robust market analysis and therefore does not establish the need for the facility, and has several important data and information gaps.” Among those gaps, the report fails to provide potential environmental impacts.
So where does all this take us?
The application is on hold until the Division receives the completed Needs Assessment Report. Meanwhile, the Division has received comments from the Utah Geological Survey, Division of Wildlife Resources, Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, GSL industries, and the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council identifying specific concerns about the project. You can read them at www.fogsl.org. If the Division determines that a Class V permit has merit and meets specific evaluative criteria a draft will go out for public comment. There is no question that FRIENDS will be there to challenge a land use that has negative and long-term impacts on Great Salt Lake. We hope you’ll be there with us.
Executive Director’s Message – Summer 2017
“Great Salt Lake is an important resource and provides so many ecological, biological, economic and recreational opportunities that we cannot ignore it much longer. Climate change and our current hydrologic cycle may be our new normal. If so, we will all have to learn to get by with less water and the necessity to allocate some water to environmental preservation must finally be given equal dignity in the appropriation process as diversionary rights that deplete the water supply. We clearly have the ability to do this, and the legal tools to make it happen.”
-Steve E. Clyde, Clyde Snow & Sessions Water Rights for Great Salt Lake: Is it the Impossible Dream?
I’ll begin my message with a big, briny thank you to Steve Clyde. Thank you, Steve for your initiative in opening a critical, timely and in some circles controversial door for engagement to talk about the legal tools that are available to provide water for Great Salt Lake. Clyde, an attorney with Clyde Snow & Sessions, is one of the state’s most respected water attorneys. At the Utah Water Law Conference last October, I had the great pleasure of hearing his presentation: Water Rights for Great Salt Lake: Is it the Impossible Dream? (Read it at fogsl.org) To say the least, I thought Great Salt Lake’s ship had finally come in. And although his emphasis was on the Lake, the takeaway in his talk was about the importance of our natural systems and how they should be given “equal dignity in the [water] appropriation process.” Amen.
In fact, if I was stranded on a desert island – maybe in this case our very own Antelope Island – and only had 4 references with me to read, those references would be Clyde’s white paper, Professor Robert Adler’s Law Review article Toward Comprehensive Watershed Restoration and Protection for Great Salt Lake, 1999, Impacts of Water Development on Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Front, 2016, a white paper by USU Professor Wayne Wurtsbaugh et al, and the 2013 Great Salt Lake Comprehensive Management Plan compiled by the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. The Division is in the Department of Natural Resources and has jurisdictional responsibility for managing the Lake in perpetuity as a public trust for the people of Utah.
I know what you’re thinking right now – Geeze! That girl needs to get out more! But I do consider these 4 sources among the “Great Books” of Great Salt Lake.
For nearly 4 years now, I’ve also had the pleasure of working with Steve on the Governor’s Water Strategy Advisory Team (Advisory Team). The purpose of the Advisory Team was to inform Governor Herbert’s 50-year State Water Plan that will be designed to address projected population growth by 2060 and Utah’s water needs. In fact, because of this valuable opportunity I’ve had the pleasure of working with a wide range of talent and perspectives on water in Utah. And I’ve learned a lot.
Forty one of us, all volunteers, were tasked by the Governor to “(1) solicit and evaluate potential water management strategies; (2) frame various water management options and implications of those options for public feedback; and (3) based on broad input develop a set of recommended strategies and ideas to be considered a part of the 50-yr water plan.”
You can read more about this process in my Executive Director’s Message (Winter 2017) and review the final Recommended State Water Strategy, July 2017.
The Recommended State Water Strategy is the result of respectful and robust debate among team members working in small groups to identify the issues and recommendations that support the eleven key policy questions in the strategy. We covered a lot of ground. The process was not without its fits and starts. And as you would expect there were the obvious sticking points particularly in the areas of conservation, climate change, and the need for new infrastructure like the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline and Bear River development projects. These issues required numerous draft revisions and negotiations among the team members that took us right up to the 11th hour.
Although Utah is the second most arid state in the nation we’re not running out of water. We just need to be smarter about inventorying/accounting, pricing, and integrating the way we understand the dynamics and the use of the resource.
But Godzilla is back! This time in the form of climate change. Climate change will require supreme due diligence in our commitment to be responsible and timely in the way we implement strategies to mitigate its impacts. Climate change is included in the strategy. The bottom line here is that although there is no perfect horse, we worked extremely hard to create a product that exhibited a shared long-term vision. A vision that, among a variety of things, includes Great Salt Lake and our environment, and ways to “modernize” the framework for Utah water law and policy to pay due regard to these important values.
On July 19th, the ink was finally dry on the document when we presented it to Governor Herbert at the State Capitol. He’ll use it to prioritize his agenda moving forward. Even though our assignment was accomplished at that point, the strategy really marks a beginning for further engagement in our important work for Utah’s water future and for the Lake. Ideally, it will be a working document that we’ll use to continue to seek ways to create accountability. We’re already talking about reconvening the Advisory Team annually for updates on how/or what we’re doing based on the recommendations we worked so hard to forge. The collective water wisdom that went into this exercise provides us with a useful framework that helps us focus our collective work on these many different fronts with an eye on our Lake.
Speaking of collective work on the Great Salt Lake water front, at the July 12th Great Salt Lake Advisory Council meeting, a draft report Water for Great Salt Lake, July 2017 was presented to council members. The report was commissioned by the GSL Advisory Council and compiled by SWCA Environmental Consultants. Its purpose is “to facilitate a discussion on how to reverse the long-term decline in Great Salt Lake water levels by considering potential strategies to maintain and/or increase the surface elevation (water levels) of Great Salt Lake. ”
Currently, the draft consists of sixty-six strategies/tools submitted by groups and individuals in response to an invitation to more than 100 recipients that went out last May. The strategies are divided into categories that include: Coordination, Environmental, Legal, Operational, Policy and Structural. Many of the ideas in the draft are the same issues that were raised in the Recommended State Water Strategy. One more call will go out for any further contributions before the Advisory Council reviews the input and begins prioritizing the strategies at its September meeting. The game is afoot.
As you know, it’s important to go wide and take a regional perspective and recognize the significance of Great Salt Lake in the context of other saline systems around the West. We need to be able to assess how those systems are doing because they also provide critical habitats for millions of migratory birds for resting, staging, and nesting during their journey. That’s just what National Audubon Society’s report Water and Birds in the Arid West: Habitats in Decline, July 2017 does. This report is another important tool that helps inform our understanding about how water – or the lack of it due to upstream diversions and climate change -- affects ecosystem health.
With the additional insights provided by the Great Salt Lake Level Matrix in the 2013 Great Salt Lake Comprehensive Management Plan that visually describes how different Lake elevations influence habitats and ecosystem services that contribute $1.3B to Utah’s economy. And the recently available Integrated Water Resource Management Model developed by CH2M for the state to help inform resource management decisions for Great Salt Lake, the time is ripe to move forward on the water front.
As Steve Clyde proposed in his presentation at the Utah Water Law Conference, “ We clearly have the ability to do this, and the legal tools to make it happen.”
In the words of the late economist, Rudiger Dornbusch “Things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.”
So let’s make it happen. We’re ready. How about you?
In saline and summer,
by Emma Penrod, Salt Lake Tribune
Modern civilization has significantly reduced the size of the Great Salt Lake, but the authors of a new study remain optimistic that a cultural shift on the Wasatch Front could still save it.
Since the Mormon pioneers arrived in 1847, Utah’s top landmark has shrunk to half its historic size, according to the study published in October in the journal Nature Geoscience. Most of that decline can be attributed to human water use, the researchers at Utah State University say — but that means humans could reverse the trend, too.
It doesn’t mean that will be easy.
The lake’s size fluctuates naturally, with seasonal and long-term weather patterns, according to Wayne Wurtsbaugh, lead author on the study and a professor emeritus of watershed science at USU. When the Wasatch Front experiences drought, lake levels drop and they rise when there’s flooding, as they did during the early 1980s.
But the lake has been on a 160-year decline, data suggest — a trend that Wurtsbaugh and colleagues attribute almost wholly to humans taking water out of rivers and streams that once fed the Great Salt Lake for use in homes, farms and industries.
“There are big ups and downs,” the USU scientist said, “but the long-term trend is down.”
“We’re not at a critical point … where they’ve lost kind of everything,” he said. “We’re in much better shape than some of these lakes.”