Thursday, 08 September 2016 09:41

Impact of Low Water on GSL Ecosystems and Economy

Low water on the Great Salt Lake is raising concern. The worries are economic and ecological as the water dips close to the lowest level it’s ever been.

Companies that mine minerals and salt from the Great Salt Lake have spent millions of dollars so far to adapt to the low water.

But it’s brine shrimp and birds causing the most worry right now.

 

Lynn de Freitas, director of FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake, points out that the lake has a $1.3 billion impact on the state’s economy.

“The lake belongs to all of us,” de Freitas . We all have a stake in this claim, and we should make our concerns heard.”

 

Read the whole story here.

Thursday, 25 August 2016 09:50

Dredging Update from Great Salt Lake Marina

Read below for the latest update from Great Salt Lake Marina on the dredging efforts. Stay tuned for more information as FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake receives it. 
 
 
DREDGING
As many of you are aware of, Dredging went out for bid in July with a mandatory pre-bid meeting late July.  That meant that, if a company was interested in bidding, they must attend the pre-bid meeting.  We had one company show up for the pre-bid meeting.  This took us by surprise since we had several companies express interest in the project.
 
In early August we received one bid for dredging.  That bid was then analyzed and rejected.  The reason it was rejected is that it wasn’t completely responsive to the Request for Proposal (RFP).  And the bidding company stated that, after building the retention pond and running a pipe to the pond site, there was only enough money to remove 1 inch of mud from the marina. 
 
Today we had another meeting to discuss what we needed to change in the bid and a path forward to successfully dredge.
 
In the original dredge bidding process it was desired to try and dredge without an Army Corp permit so that dredging could happen as quick as possible.  But not pursuing a permit  we learned it limited us on how much material could be dredged. 
 
In order to dredge as much spoils as possible we now have two permitting routes open to us through ACOE.  One is an Individual Permit.  The other is the Nationwide Permit.  Ideally we would like to deposit dredging spoils in the pond behind the marina.  But this would require mitigation of 5 to 10 acres of wetlands.  And it would require an Individual Permit.  Estimated mitigation would cost anywhere from $325,000 to $700,000.  And this is if a mitigation bank can be found.  The time frame for an Individual Permit would be a minimum of a year with no guarantee that Army Corp would approve us dumping spoils on the wetland behind the marina.
 
So it has been decided that we will pursue a path for a Nationwide permit.  This gives us more flexibility on how dredging is done and substantially lowers the cost of spoils containment.  And the Nationwide Permit is a much quicker process as well as likelihood of approval.  It has also been decided to open up options of how the dredging is done.  This could include suction dredging, wet excavation or a coffer dam and dry excavation.
 
Most of the hard work on putting a new RFP together for bidding is already done.  It is expected that the new RFP will be released around late September with the contract being awarded early to mid-November.  Because of the breach being imminent we are also pursuing a path of emergency dredging for the mouth of the marina so that Search & Rescue efforts can be maintained.  Emergency dredging may be possible early November.
 
Timeline for dredging to begin looks like late Spring or early Summer at this time.  I will keep you posted.
 
WATER LEVELS
It isn’t good! We have had a long hot summer which has taken its toll on the lake.  And the railroad breach appears to be imminent.  It is scheduled to be breached on September 30th.  And lake level loss due to the breach is about 1 to 1.3 feet.  Remember this is just an estimate.  It could be less.  It could be more.  And we are likely to lose another 0.6 feet from evaporation.  There are a couple of us that have done some estimating and calculations on where the lake will bottom out at in November.  We are all within 0.3 feet of each other.  The average of the estimates is that we will bottom out at 419.0 feet above sea level or 1.8 feet lower than we are now.  Again it may be less than that.  It may be more.  The effects of the breach are just not completely known.  But we are likely to have about 1.3 feet of water in the shallow spots of the mouth (without dredging) after evaporation ends and breaching happens.
 
There are several of us working on trying to move back the timing of the breach to December.  But it sounds like we will be lucky to get it postponed to late October at best.  I will keep you informed.
Monday, 22 August 2016 09:36

Great Salt Lake in Catalyst Magazine

This month's issue of Catalyst Magazine features an article by Rob Lawrence entitled, Something Strange.

You can read the entire article here!

British and American leaders signed the Migratory Bird Treaty a century ago.  These days the Great Salt Lake plays an important role in carrying out the mission of that international treaty. Read more or listen here. 

Tuesday, 02 August 2016 10:53

Salt Lake County Watershed Symposium

Abstracts due August 5, 2016 for Salt Lake County's 10th Annual Watershed Symposium

SALT LAKE CITY – A portion of Great Salt Lake has disappeared and a Westminster professor suspects it may hold the key to an even bigger lake mystery. Is the lake’s deep brine layer the source of its toxic methylmercury levels? Read more here.

 

 

State officials have begun sampling the Jordan River and wetlands near Great Salt Lake in Davis County. The Central Davis Sewer District, which is involved in an ongoing effort to study the Great Salt Lake, plans to collect samples from Farmington Bay on Wednesday and share that data with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

We will continue to post updates on the sampling as we get them.

http://deq.utah.gov/locations/U/utahlake/algal-bloom.htm

 

 

Our friends and Energy & Environment News recently published this update on Great Salt Lake. This is part five of their Dead Sea series.

Recent estimpates report, "At least 550 square miles of lake bed is now dry, an area five times the size of Owens Lake -- the site of Los Angeles' water grab at the turn of the 20th century, which led to dust bowl conditions there (Greenwire, June 6).

Dust storms occur regularly in the Great Salt Lake region, and research suggests the lake breathes contaminants -- inhaling filthy air from cities, adding to it and then exhaling it right back at population centers.

The public health consequences of that pollution will be worse than what has occurred at California's imperiled salt lakes, experts say. More than two-thirds of Utah's rapidly growing population -- 2 million people -- breathes that pollution.

'The lake is dynamic, it's always changing, and it's risen and fallen throughout time,' said John Luft, Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

'But this is different. The cumulative impacts of population growth and climate change will increase water consumption. Rather than moving away, people will continue to make this their home. If we are not more conscientious about our water use, we will be facing a disappearing lake.'

Read the full article, "Dead Seas: Great Salt Lake Faces Ruin," here.

To read other articles from the Dead Seas series special report, click here.

Our friends and Energy & Environment News recently published this update on Mono Lake in California. This is part four of their Dead Sea series. 

"Now, advocates for Mono Lake tout it as a model that could work for other imperiled lakes... 

"Without the regulations, Mono Lake would have been doomed. But the ultimate goal -- to restore Mono Lake's water to ecologically healthy levels -- is far from realized. Due to a combination of drought and warming temperatures, Mono Lake is now close to its lowest level in 10 years and is nearly 15 feet below the goal of the regulations...

"Air pollution around the lake consequently now reaches nearly 100 times the federal standard for coarse particulate matter during windstorms. It's the country's largest source of dust."

Read the full article, "Dead Seas: Drought threatens 'genius' regs that stopped L.A. water grab" here.

To read other articles from the Dead Seas series special report, click here.

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Why We Care

  • "This was by far the most exciting and effective wave excursion I ever made this side of the Rocky Mountains; and when at its close I was heaved ashore among the sunny grasses and flowers, I found myself a new creature indeed, and went bounding along the beach with blood all aglow, reinforced by the best salts of the mountains, and ready for any race."

    - John Muir describing a swim in Great Salt Lake