Jake Vander Laan

Great Salt Lake Coordinator

Utah Division of Water Quality 

Bio:

Jake coordinates the Utah Division of Water Quality’s Great Salt Lake water quality and freshwater lake assessment programs. He has a B.S. in Environmental Science from Northern Michigan University and an M.S. in Aquatic Ecology from Utah State University. Jake joined DWQ in 2015 following work as a research associate in Utah State University’s Western Center for Monitoring and Assessment of Freshwater Ecosystems.

Title: Great Salt Lake: Salinity, Beneficial Uses, and Water Quality Standards

Wednesday, May 9th, 9:10 AM

Abstract: One of the unique aspects of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem is the relatively abrupt juxtaposition of fresh, brackish, saline, and hypersaline aquatic habitats. These differences are driven in part by a series of causeways that have subdivided GSL into four main parts. Variations in salinity among different portions of GSL have resulted in the occurrence of distinct sets of chemical and biological conditions which necessitates a unique approach to the development and implementation of water quality standards to protect GSL’s beneficial uses.

In December 2016, flow between two major portions of GSL, Gilbert Bay and Gunnison Bay, was restored through the construction of a new bridge in the causeway that separates them. Flow rates of water, salt, and other constituents between these two bays have potentially important implications for GSL’s beneficial uses. The GSL Salinity Advisory Committee is an essential component in considering these implications and providing recommendations to the state agencies responsible for evaluating and implementing management actions on the new causeway opening.

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Why We Care

  • We suggest that Great Salt Lake is a phenomenal asset to the state of Utah. Its mineral resources have been appreciated for almost 150 years. Brine shrimp are now appreciated because they are economically valuable. To only a very limited extent is the lake appreciated for tourism, for culture, for earth systems history and for education. 

    Scientific Review Committee, Comments to the Great Salt Lake Management Planning Team, 1999