Great Salt Lake and Urmia Lake are very similar saline systems, except for one big difference, we still have a chance to save our Inland Sea.
You can watch the KSL covereage here :
“I want to have enough water so we can turn those damn pumps on again.”
- The late Governor Norm Bangerter (1933- 2015)
I would add a bittersweet amen to that, Governor.
I think it was the spring of 2003 when FRIENDS hosted a field trip to the West Desert Pumping Project (WDPP) aka the “Bangerter Pumps”. In our never-ending pursuit of Great Salt Lake discoveries, we went to satisfy our curiosity about a fairly controversial project in the 80’s that had become famous. Famous because it provided an engineering solution of mythological proportions that enhanced the Lake’s natural evaporation process by mechanically expanding its surface area out into the west desert. As part of an extensive flood control program that was being implemented to address a rising Great Salt Lake, the project was awarded the 1988 Civil Engineering Achievement of Merit by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Awesome, dude!
Such measures aren’t totally foreign to our relationship with Great Salt Lake. The railroad had already made its statement in the 1950s by constructing the infamous causeway that continues to divide the system into two ecologically distinct parts – the North and South Arms. There’s evidence that even Brigham Young considered ways of “spilling” the Lake into the west desert to increase evaporation back in 1873 when it peaked at 4,211.5’. But the WDPP was then, and is now, symbolic of how we regard the importance of the Lake’s economic and ecological values in the scheme of our modern day existence. And in that context, it also demonstrates how willing we are to persist in a tug of war relationship that defines our cultural interface between what we do and don’t want from Great Salt Lake.
On the rise-
As a shallow, terminal lake at the bottom of a 35,000 sq. mi. drainage basin with no natural outlet, a series of wet years will intensify any upward trending of the Lake’s elevation. The Lake rebounded from a record low of 4,191.3’ in 1963 and, despite a brief dry cycle in the 1970s, rose 20 feet over the course of 24 years. With that rise and an abbreviated evaporation season in 1982, the Lake’s briny waters spread out on its natural floodplain impacting a range of lakescape and landscape uses. Its surface area had nearly doubled to about 3,300 square miles. And between 1982 and 1987 (remember the river down State Street in 1983?) its volume had tripled to nearly 30 million acre- feet resulting in another historic high elevation of about 4,211.85’ mean surface level.
For 25 years between 1940 and1965 when the Lake was low, development on and around the Lake had escalated. Now, given the circumstances of these high water conditions much was at stake. Potential targets included the Salt Lake International Airport, extractive industries like minerals and brine shrimp, wildlife management areas and important habitat, public utilities such as wastewater treatment operations, roads and interstate highways, railroads and causeways, harbors and other recreational facilities, productive farmland, tourism, businesses, backyards and basements in neighborhoods, and anything else that happened to be in harm’s way from a swelling Great Salt Lake. Damages from this larger Lake were estimated at $1billion.
This kind of fluctuation of the Lake is considered within the range of its historic hydrologic cycle. However with such a stunning inundation of water at every turn, in the June 1999 report from the Utah Division of Water Resources and Utah Department of Natural Resources, The Great Salt Lake West Desert Pumping Project: Its Design, Development, and Operation, the Lake was characterized as “being out of control”, “on a destructive rampage”, and “plagued those who have utilized its shores.” Such a significant challenge from our inland sea impelled the state to step up to protect the health, safety and economic interests that were now at risk. And it was very ready, willing and able to do so.
Timing is of the essence-
By the late 1970’s quite a lot of attention had already been given to the concept of a West Desert Pumping Project as part of alternative flood control measures. In December 1983, the Utah Division of Water Resources released A Final Report West Desert Pumping Alternative-Great Salt Lake concluding that such a project was feasible. A WDPP would consist of a pumping plant, a system of canals and ponds, containment dikes and a return brine conveyance system. The extent of its footprint would go well beyond its state sovereign lands jurisdiction to include public lands, lands owned by the BLM and the US Air Force Target Range. Various permits, right-of ways (ROW), and agreements would have to be secured for a project of this scope to be constructed.
In 1984, the Southern Pacific Railroad causeway was breached to relieve the growing water differential that was banking up on the causeway from the collective inflows of the Bear, Weber/Ogden, and Jordan Rivers into the south arm. This breach dropped the elevation about one foot. Following the usual regulatory process, an Environmental Impact Statement was created, including Diking and No Action Alternatives. The final Record of Decision came in July 1986 and a 50-year ROW was granted by the BLM to the state on June 20, 1986 to “construct, operate, maintain and terminate” the WDPP. The USAF also granted the state a short-term emergency access that terminated at the end of the pumping period.
In special session, the Utah Legislature authorized $71.7 million for HB 6 – the flood control bill. The bill supported an array of immediate and long-term flood control measures that included the West Desert Pumping Project. More ominously, it also included funding for future feasibility considerations for dams and upstream storage, particularly on the Bear River that provides the lion’s share of inflows to Great Salt Lake.
From start to finish of the operation – April 10, 1987 to June 30, 1989, the pumps moved over 2.73 million acre-feet of Great Salt Lake water. The surface of the Lake dropped about 14.5” shrinking its shoreline by approximately 50,000 acres. In the first year of operation 1.4 million acre-feet of water - equivalent to 40% of the total level decline- was pumped. Even now, opinions vary about when and how long the pumps should have operated but there is consensus that the strategy was beneficial in addressing the flooding.
On the decline-
Springtime is normally the time of year boats are lowered into the harbor at the Great Salt Lake Marina. This year, boats are being lifted out for dry dock/storage until perhaps 2017. Slip renters are being encouraged by Harbormaster Dave Shearer to arrange for all boats with a draft over 3’ to be pulled out in preparation for the long awaited dredging that will finally begin on July 1. Although Great Salt Lake recreation contributes about $135.8 million annually to Utah’s economy, the $1.5 million for dredging required significant arm-twisting of Utah legislators to commit money from the Sovereign Lands Restricted Funds (that’s what this fund is for) to provide some relief. But without additional funding support from the State Parks Park Fees Restricted Funds (sic) dredging wouldn’t be happening.
Many of these boats haven’t been able to leave their slips for almost a year and sailors are preparing for a record low Lake elevation of 4,191.3’ this summer. Shearer suggests that a snowpack of 140% or more is necessary for the Lake to rise enough in 2016 to make it suitable for navigation again.
Meanwhile, in the North Arm (4,192.4’) where Lake levels are typically 1.5’ lower, the 3rd largest breeding population of American White Pelicans in North America is returning to Gunnison Island to produce the next generation of birds. The island is no longer surrounded by water. That means the population is vulnerable to land access predators.
The island and pelicans are protected under Utah law. How are the Division of Wildlife Resources, and Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands proposing to meet this jurisdictional responsibility?
We know from other saline systems in the region and around the planet that upstream water diversions and climate change have contributed to lower water levels. In some cases, such as California’s Owens Lake, lakes have dried up completely. Exposed lakebeds create dust and air quality problems that influence health and quality of life issues. At Owens Lake, millions of dollars are now being spent on trying to put water back into a system that has become notorious for its high levels of PM10.
Back in the ‘80’s Utah was ready, willing and able to take the initiative to protect economic interests that are generated by the Lake, protect the health and safety of its population, and address important ecological attributes like habitat restoration and protection.
Why aren’t we doing that now? The situation is the same: low water levels threaten economic interests, threaten the health of our citizens, and threaten critical habitat. It is time to act. At the very least $1.3 billion is at stake.
Thanks for being there for the Lake.
Officials have just released a controversial audit of the Utah Division of Water Resources.
Government officials said legislators from both sides called for the audit after claims the division opposed water conservation for fears it could reduce water revenues for water sellers.
Critics also accuse the division of inflating future water needs to scare the public into spending billions on water projects like the Lake Powell Pipeline and the Bear River Project.
Joro Walker, Senior Attorney/Utah Office Director, Western Resource Advocates
Tim Wagner, Executive Director, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment
Lynn de Freitas, Executive Director, Friends of Great Salt Lake
Joan Clayburgh, Communications Director, Western Resource Advocates
Cell: 530-318-5370, firstname.lastname@example.org
Utah Groups Forced to Sue Over Permitting More Air Pollution At HollyFrontier Refinery
State fails to protect public health when the law requires emission reductions
(April 28, 2015) Western Resource Advocates, representing Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and Friends of the Great Salt Lake, is filing litigation appealing the Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ) decision to issue an air quality permit allowing expansion of the HollyFrontier refinery in Salt Lake City.
The case contends that the permit should be denied because the expansion will result in a major increase in air pollution in a region that is already failing to meet federal air quality standards. The modification alone will increase emissions of hazardous air pollutants by 13 tons per year. The HollyFrontier refinery proposal greatly surpasses permitted levels, with its flares alone contributing 240 tons of sulfur dioxide each year, which is more than twice the permit limit for the plant's entire operations of 110 tons of sulfur dioxide per year.Fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) in several northern Utah counties currently exceeds the Clean Air Act’s health-based 24-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard. Salt Lake County is also exceeding the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and is in violation of the sulfur dioxide and particulate matter (PM10) standards. Numerous polls show that air pollution remains the issue of greatest concern to most Utah residents.“We have all felt our eyes and lungs burn and worried about the health of our children and parents. Utah should not permit another new project that will result in a major increase in air pollution and make this bad situation worse,” said Joro Walker, lead attorney on the case and Western Resource Advocate’s Utah Director.
The challenge claims the Division of Air Quality failed to calculate the emissions from the proposed expansion accurately. The heart of the issue is that the expansion will result in a major increase in air pollution, which is not allowed by federal law in an air pollution non-attainment area such as the Wasatch Front. By federal law, the Division may not permit the expansion unless the company secures a greater air pollution reduction elsewhere in the non-attainment area and the Division of Air Quality shows an overall air quality benefit.“Permitting Holly to emit more pollution in our already highly polluted region is a death sentence for some individuals,” said Tim Wagner with Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. “Our state agencies must do a better job of reducing air pollution and protecting public health.”“There is no safe level of exposure to particulate pollution and no threshold below which negative health effects disappear. Some people literally die from exposure.
Utah’s agencies should never allow more pollution when there are alternative paths for our economy and our health to improve,” said Lynn de Freitas, Executive Director of Friends of Great Salt Lake.HollyFrontier is one of the largest independent petroleum refiners in the United States, processing crude oil for gasoline, asphalt and other products. Refinery particulate pollution contains high concentrations of heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, sulfur oxides, nitrous oxides and volatile organic compounds. The refinery contributes to Utah’s air pollution problem by directly emitting hazardous air pollutants and PM2.5, as well as the pollutants that form fine particulate matter during inversions.
To receive a copy of the legal filing contact joro.walker@Westernresources.org
For the last 25 years Western Resource Advocates has been one of the West’s leading conservation groups protecting the region’s air, land and water. WRA’s lawyers, scientists and economists craft innovative solutions for the most complex natural resource challenges in the region. Go to www.westernresourceadvocates.org and follow us on Twitter @WRADV.
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment was formed in 2007 during one of Utah's worse inversions. The organization consists of approximately 350 medical professional within Utah, and another 4,000 supporting members of the public. UPHE is dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of the citizens of Utah by promoting science- based health education and interventions that result in progressive, measurable improvements to the environment. UPHE can be found at www.uphe.org or on Facebook.
The Utah Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands requests proposals for research projects that will assist the Division in becoming better informed stewards of Great Salt Lake. It is the intent of the Division to gain a better understanding of the lake system which leads to informed decision making regarding long-term management of this important ecosystem.
The Great Salt Lake Tech Team, through its Research and Grants Subcommittee, has identified six “hot topics” that research projects will address in 2016, either individually or in combination:
FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake is requesting Statements of Qualifications and Proposals from individuals and firms to act as the FoGSL’s technical expert in monitoring and interpreting site specific information related to the cleanup of the US Magnesium Superfund Site near Rowley, Utah in Tooele County.
The DEADLINE for responding to this RFQ/RFP and for submitting all related materials is Tuesday, April 14th, 2015, at 5:00 P.M.
FoGSL will announce the successful applicant within thirty days of the deadline. FoGSL expects to enter into a written “time and material” contract with a “not to exceed” cap on total costs, expenses and materials with the selected individual or firm. The selection process, the contractor, and contract are subject to prior review by the EPA. FoGSL reserves the right to modify, withdraw or cancel this RFQ/RFP at any time and for any reason prior to the execution of a written agreement with the selected individual or firm.
FoGSL reserves the right to meet with one or more respondents before making a final selection.
Address all submissions and correspondence to:
Katie Pearce, TAG Coordinator and Board member, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake
P.O. Box 2655, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110.
FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake is seeking to hire an Environmental Education Coordinator.
Title: Environmental Education Coordinator
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Status: Part-time, Year round
Compensation: $10-$12 hourly
FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake (FRIENDS) was founded in 1994. The mission of FRIENDS is to preserve and protect Great Salt Lake ecosystems and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the Lake through education, research, advocacy, and the arts. The long-term vision of FRIENDS is to achieve comprehensive watershed-based restoration and protection for the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem.
The Environmental Education Coordinator’s primary responsibility will be facilitating the 4th grade Lakeside Learning field trip program at Antelope Island State Park and Great Salt Lake Marina State Park. This position will also participate in community outreach events, administrative duties, and other tasks as assigned by the Education and Outreach Director.
The Environmental Education Coordinator works with a diverse population of students, in groups of 25-50, in remote outdoor settings; it is essential that the Environmental Education Coordinator be comfortable working in various conditions (biting insects, salt, sand, rain, sun) outdoors and be adaptable in the case of inclement weather.
Lakeside Learning field trips take place Monday through Friday, between 8am and 2pm during the months of April, May, June, September, and October at Antelope Island State Park and Great Salt Lake Marina State Park. Additional work will generally take place during business hours, Monday through Friday, although some evening and weekends may be required. Although this position will average 20-25 hours per week, the weekly time commitment will be variable.
The Environmental Education Coordinator will:
How to Apply:
Email a resume, cover letter, and 3 references to Holly Simonsen at email@example.com no later than Friday February 22, 2018.
FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake is excited to announce the 2nd Annual Alfred Lambourne Prize!
FRIENDS looks forward to another year of celebrating the relationship between local artists and one of Utah’s most precious natural resources. Through artistic expressions, we enhance our capacity to build awareness about Great Salt Lake and our need to preserve and protect it for the future.
Great Salt Lake Bird Festival May 14-18, 2015 Farmington, Utah
The 2015 Great Salt Lake Bird Festival promises another fantastic program of field trips, workshops, and family events. And the icing on the cake for our 17th annual Festival is Keynote Speaker David Allen Sibley.
Festival attendees have several incredible opportunities to interact with Sibley, America's most gifted contemporary painter of birds, and the author and illustrator of The Sibley Guide to Birds(2nd edition released in 2014). Sibley will offer a workshop at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 15, followed by a book signing. He will also co-lead two field trips on Saturday, May 16, and conclude the day as the keynote speaker at the Festival’s Dutch Oven Dinner.
Dinner tickets to hear David Allen Sibley are on sale now at http://www.greatsaltlakebirdfest.com/; just click the “Register Now” button.
Be sure to check back again starting at 9 a.m. MST on March 2 for all field trip registration. Many trips fill up fast—so log in early to get your preferred spots.
As always, the Festival offers a full slate of family activities on Friday evening and all day on Saturday. The “Birding Is for Families” theme is carried out in the first workshop on Saturday morning, offered by author and birder Bill Fenimore. Saturday workshops are free and feature many live birds.
Another great feature of the Festival is the annual Student Art Contest. The contest is open to Utah students in pre-school through 12th grade. In recent years, the festival has received several hundred exceptional entries from students all over the state. All student art is on exhibit at the Festival from 12–7 p.m. on Friday, May 15, and from 10 a.m. –6 p.m. on Saturday, May 16. Art Contest information and entry form is on the web site. Entries are due May 4, 2015. http://www.greatsaltlakebirdfest.com/art_contest.php
The Festival hosts a vendor fair on Friday afternoon and all day Saturday. Interested vendors—both businesses and non-profit organizations—should fill out the vendor application found online at http://www.greatsaltlakebirdfest.com/.
Registration for field trips for the 2015 Festival begins on-line March 2, 2015.
Vendor applications accepted through April 30, 2015. Program listing is on-line and program booklets can be picked up at the Davis County Administration Building Room 304, 61 S. Main Farmington, Wild About Birds Nature Center/Layton, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, or Feed the Birds/Bountiful.
Scientists say Union Pacific causeway must be breached to protect ecosystem, brine industries.
What do you think?
A very informative article with lots of great contributors, including our Executive Director Lynn de Freitas.
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.
Friend of the Lake Award Recipients
The Friend of the Lake Award is given to a person, organization, 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. Understanding can lead to positive action for preservation of Great Salt Lake. To recognize these talents and contributions, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake established an award to be presented at our Biennial Great Salt Lake Issues Forum.
2002 – The first award was presented to the late Dr. Donald R. Currey, geomorphologist in the Geography Department at the University of Utah. Dr. Currey worked to raise awareness about the unique geomorphological features that surround Great Salt Lake, their importance as archives of the past, and why they should be protected.
2004 - Joy Emory is an environmental engineer representing FRIENDS on the Kennecott South End Technical Advisory Committee as part of the CERCLA process. Her understanding of extremely complex surface and ground water dynamics as it pertains to the remediation of mining contamination helped FRIENDS participate more fully in this important process.
2006 - Al Trout is the retired manager of the USFWS Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Brigham City, Utah. Al worked tirelessly with the community and volunteers to restore the Refuge after the high water years of the 1980’s. He continues to be an arch advocate for Great Salt Lake preservation and protection.
2008 – There were two recipients this year - a doctor and an attorney. It’s important for the Lake to have both. Dr. Maunsel Pearce, Chair of the GSL Alliance and Joro Walker, Senior Attorney at Western Resources Advocates. Dr. Pearce has always been there for the Lake – advocating for better management, stronger protection and greater recognition of this hemispherically important ecosystem.
Just like good science, good legal insight can strengthen the work FRIENDS is trying to do for the Lake. Joro has been instrumental in providing legal support to help advance timely and responsible results for the Lake.
2010 – Don Paul is president of AvianWest, Inc, a bird and habitat conservation business. He is a career wildlife biologist having served 34 years in several positions for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and four years as the Great Basin Bird Conservation Region Coordinator. His career emphasis takes two directions, conservation biology with emphases in international community conservation linkages and avian conservation with experience in large-scale landscape bird monitoring.
2012 – Charles Uibel, (greatsaltlakephotography.com) has an incredible photographic eye. He has been to just about every place a person can go around the Lake, capturing its beauty in such a magical way that the viewer is awed. His photographs are a constant reminder of the power and the importance of Great Salt Lake in our lives.
2014 – Hikmet Sidney Loe teaches art history at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. Her research on Robert Smithson’s earthwork the Spiral Jetty has led to her cumulative work, The Spiral Jetty Encyclo: Exploring Robert Smithson’s Earthwork through Time and Place (forthcoming, as are several book chapters on the earthwork). She contributes regularly to the online magazine 15 Bytes (artistsofutah.org) and has essays included in the online sitemappingslc.org. Exhibition catalog essays were commissioned of Loe in 2013 for Utah Biennial: Mondo Utah (Utah Museum of Contemporary Art) and Plurality: Frank McEntire in Retrospect (Snow College University), and in 2014 for No One Site (The Leonardo and the School of Architecture, University of Utah). She has curated exhibitions at Westminster College, Finch Lane Gallery (Art Barn), and The Museum of Modern Art Library, New York; lectures frequently; and exhibits photographs related to the land.
2016 – At the the 2016 Great Salt Lake Issues Forum, FRIENDS honored the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program (GSLEP) with this award for its collaborative due diligence in studying artemia franciscana – Great Salt Lake brine shrimp. Over the past 20 years, this public-private partnership represented by the Great Salt Lake Brine Shrimp Cooperative, Division of Wildlife Resources, U.S. Geological Survey, Utah State University and the University of Notre Dame has succeeded in developing a sustainable management model for this resource. The Brine Shrimp Population Model developed by Dr. Gary Belovsky, University of Notre Dame, is a model used to track the brine shrimp demographics and manage the fishery in order to maximize production and ensure a healthy ecosystem. Our hats go off to the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program (GSLEP) for its coordinated effort in providing a valuable tool for managing this resource.