Three commentaries on the Utah Lake scheme

The Salt Lake Tribune had three commentaries this week shredding developers’ claim that Utah Lake needs “restoration,” via a multi-billion dollar dredging operation, a network of over 30 artificial islands, and dropping a new city of up to a half million people on them. There are multiple claims by Lake Restoration Solutions (the developers) that are false, misleading, or self-serving distortions of fact.

1.  “The lake is a polluted disaster” – it’s not, and the problems it does have are improving. Multiple professional experts, including the author of one of the above mentioned Tribune letters, oppose the project on grounds of its impact to ecological health. Tara Bishop, a Ph.D. ecosystem ecologist with expertise in how disturbance affects ecosystem structure and function, wrote in her letter “in the last few decades, we recognized the unintentional attack on the lake and course-corrected through careful planning, transparency, collaboration and scientific research. These restorative actions have been successful…” 

2. “This project would fix a pollution disaster” – Dropping a city of up to 500,000 people in the middle of the lake would create a new pollution disaster, not cure an existing one. This is not the way to develop the Wasatch Front. The new city would create more traffic, emissions and pollution along the Wasatch Front. 

3. “Scientists say dredging would help the lake.” – The opinion of the overwhelming majority of scientific experts is that it would make things worse.  The fact that it was developers that came up with the idea, not scientists, says about everything you need to know about it. “LRS hired engineering and diving companies to survey the lake, and another firm to survey current wetlands. Where are the comprehensive studies of the feasibility of the islands themselves?” asked concerned citizen and former BYU professor, John Bennion, in his letter. 

4.  “Making the lake deeper would reduce evaporation.” – Evaporation sustains local rainfall, why would we want that? Much of the drinking water along the Wasatch Front comes from snow melt in our canyons, and water managers have expressed concern over what altering the Lake’s water level would mean for water rights. 

5.  “We can pay for dredging by creating new residential and commercial real estate via the fake islands.” –  If that fails, Utah Lake would remain destroyed or taxpayers would be forced to pick up the billions of dollars needed  to undo the damage. A previous Salt Lake Tribune article wrote about the “murky finances” behind the proposal. Documents revealed that nearly $1 billion of the ~ $6.4 billion proposal comes from federal and state assistance- aka the taxpayer. This proposal is not a wise use of resources that could be used to better our community and air. And that figure doesn’t include who will be on the hook for the inevitable clean up. 

We say NO to the scam of developers’ fantasy islands on Utah Lake, NO to up to 500,000 more people dependent on rapidly diminishing water resources, and hundreds of thousands more vehicles and homes adding to the air pollution we already have on the Wasatch Front.

John Bennion’s letter.
Tara Bishop’s letter.
Wes Davey’s letter.