Click the following link to the RDCC website for comments that were submitted on the proposed Class V permit request by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, and the Utah Geological Survey office in the Department of Natural Resources for the latest on the Promontory Point Landfill.  Click Here

Aerial photograph courtesy of Charles Uibel. 

 

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Join HEAL, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake, and researchers at the University of Utah for a discussion about the environmental impacts of US Magnesium -- in particular focusing on the threats to air quality in Northern Utah.

The community event will be held Wednesday, September 13 from 6:30-8:30 at the Marmalade Library (280 West 500 North in Salt Lake City).


For a preview of Friends of Great Salt Lake's work, click here: https://www.fogsl.org/advocacy/us-magnesium

 

Facebook Event

Wednesday, 06 September 2017 10:52

Will Utah Dam the Bear River?

The Wasatch Front faces drier times and a growing population, threatening Great Salt Lake.

by Emily Benson of High Country News

Amid the wave of dams coming down across the nation, several places are bucking the trend. New dams have been proposed in California, Colorado, Utah and other Western states. The motivations behind the projects are complex, but in some cases the same fears drive dam defenders and detractors alike: a drier future and rising populations.

Utah is seeking additional water sources to address its growth. There, legislators decreed in 1991 that the Bear River, the Great Salt Lake’s largest tributary, should host a water development project. Two and a half decades later, scientists, policy experts, environmentalists, residents and water managers are still grappling with whether or not — and how — to move forward with damming the Bear.

The answers they come to will have consequences for the $1.3 billion generated each year by industries reliant on the Great Salt Lake. The lake’s ecology, its wetlands and the millions of migratory birds that depend on it are also at risk — as is the health of the more than 2 million people who live nearby and could breathe in harmful dust from a drying lakebed. Caught between the dire costs of construction and the specter of dwindling water supplies, the Bear River diversion forces uncomfortable questions. Does it make sense to build a new dam project, decades after the heyday of big dams is over? How do you decide?

Read More Here

Attached you will find comments on the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the West Davis Corridor.

Comments on West Davis Highway FEIS 08312017.pdf

 

Monday, 14 August 2017 11:56

Utah's Water Plan Still Has Miles To Go

Conservation, not big diversion projects, is what the state needs.

by Lynn de Freitas, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake

by Amelia Nuding, Wester Resource Advocates 

On July 19, Utah’s 50-year State Water Strategy was released by the State Water Strategy Advisory Team. In an arid state where water is paramount to public health, the economy and the environment, the plan offers many sound and actionable strategies. Its focus on water conservation and better data management demonstrates responsible stewardship of Utah’s most precious natural resource. The state’s population is expected to nearly double over the next 50 years, and being increasingly efficient with every drop of water is absolutely necessary.

But it will be up to state policymakers, water utilities, and every individual to make sure we are good stewards of our water. The good news is there are literally dozens of cost-effective water-saving measures that can be implemented to reduce water waste without sacrificing our quality of life. Outdoor water use is one of the most important areas to focus on. As a first step, all water providers should install water meters to measure use of water used for outdoor irrigation – because you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Second, homes and businesses can install smart irrigation controllers to ensure that sprinklers are not watering when it’s raining or snowing, which will greatly reduce water waste while keeping landscapes beautiful.

Agriculture also has a role to play in our water future, as over 80 percent of Utah’s water is used for agriculture. The new State Water Strategy gets it right again by committing to maintain a robust agricultural economy while also exploring ways to help irrigators use water more efficiently. 

All that said, there is a major cart-before-the-horse problem with the plan. Two proposed water projects which would tap into the Colorado and Bear Rivers – the Lake Powell Pipeline and the Bear River Development Project – received plan support, in spite of the fact that the State acknowledges it does not have the data to justify the projects. Good data should be a prerequisite for any proposed water project, so that taxpayers who foot the bill know if there is actually a need for it or not.

These unnecessary water diversion projects will cost billions of dollars, take years to build, and threaten the health of Utah’s recreation-based economy. The Bear River Development Project also threatens the Great Salt Lake ecosystem, and the $1.3 billion economy that depends on it, including brine shrimp harvesting and mineral extraction processes. We have yet to make full and efficient use of our existing water supplies. We should optimize cheaper and safer water management alternatives first.

We’d like to thank the governor for convening this Advisory Team and for the hard work the Team put into this very important process. Now is the time to take action on the Strategy’s best elements to ensure that the cheapest, fastest, and best water management options for meeting our water future are fully realized before making taxpayers build unnecessary projects such as the Lake Powell Pipeline and the Bear River Project.

Link To Article in The Salt Lake Tribune 

Lynn de Freitas is the Executive Director of Friends of Great Salt Lake, whose mission is the preservation and protection of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem.  Friends seeks to increase public awareness and appreciation of the Lake through education, research, advocacy, and the arts. 

Amelia Nuding is a Senior Water Resources Analyst at Western Resource Advocates, which works to protect the West’s land air and water so our communities thrive in balance with nature.  She has worked on western water policy issues for over 10 years, leveraging partnerships and developing innovative policies to advance smart water management for the benefit of our communities, environment and economy.

On the Water Front of Great Salt Lake - Taking the Initiative to Identify Ways to Provide Water for the Lake is the Right Thing to Do

“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, 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,

Lynn

Comments must be received by September 12, 2017.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District has posted Public Notice SPK-2007-01985-UO to www.spk.usace.army.mil/Media/RegulatoryPublicNotices.aspx.

The Utah Department of Transportation has applied for a permit to place dredged or fill material in approximately 43.49 acres of waters of the United States to construct the West Davis Corridor project.  The approximately 19-mile-long project site runs through portions of West Point, Syracuse, Layton, Kaysville, Farmington, and Centerville, from I-15 in Farmington to 1800 North in West Point and can be seen on the Farmington, Kaysville, Clearfield, and Roy USGS Topographic Quadrangles.

Written comments and/or a request for a paper copy of the notice may be submitted to project manager Matt Wilson at the Bountiful Regulatory Office, 533 West 2600 South, Suite 150, Bountiful, Utah 84010-7744, email Matthew.S.Wilson@usace.army.mil, or telephone (801) 295-8380 X 11.

 

The final draft of the Recommended State Water Strategy compiled by the Governor's Water Strategy Advisory Team is now available.

 

The Great Salt Lake Advisory Council (Council) is requesting submissions of strategies or tools to maintain or increase the surface elevation of Great Salt Lake (GSL).  To date, the Council has received sixty-six (66) strategies/tools submitted by groups and individuals in Utah.  The Council is compiling these strategies to facilitate a discussion on how to reverse the long-term decline in GSL water levels. Attached find a draft report summarizing the 66 strategies received, to date.  Before completing its report, the Council wants to make sure it has not missed strategies, tools or options you believe might be useful. Please share your suggestions of potential options, tools or strategies to get more water in GSL with bnicholson@swca.com no later than July 28, 2017.  Please include a description of the strategy, a statement of its applicability to GSL, and potential limitations on its implementation (see format of prior submissions in the draft report).   You may also provide comments on prior submissions.  To encourage a broad scope of responses, all suggestions will be included and all submitters will remain anonymous. 

 

 

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Why We Care

  • Years ago the Great Salt Lake was a entertainment destination for the people of Salt Lake City. One of my ancestors had a vacation home near Black Rock, where he would take his family to escape the heat and cares of the city. That was a long time ago and a lot has changed since then. For many reasons the lake is not as popular as it once was. But it has been a source of peace, contemplation, and inspiration to me. I reflect on photos I have seen of the grand days of Saltair and the love of floating in the lake. I have done this myself on numerous occasions. I love the sensation of effortlessly floating. And we can escape the cares of the world.

    Clinton Whiting, Alfred Lambourne Prize Participant