Where will the water come from?

How will the Utah Inland Port affect Utah’s water crisis?

 It will only make it worse.

The Utah Legislature changed the makeup of the Utah Inland Port Authority Board during the last session, and this Wed, May 11, at 12:30 pm in room 445 of the State Capitol Building will be the first public board meeting with the new board.  The new board provides no voting membership for the communities most affected, and there is no environmental representation or expertise for a project that could be the biggest new source of pollution and water consumption in the state’s recent history. 

“The Stop the Polluting Port Coalition has warned about port pollution from more trucks, trains, airplanes, and construction dust since the port’s inception. Now we can add more dust pollution from a shriveling up Great Salt Lake, made worse by an inland port with no plan and no restraint for water consumption,” said Deeda Seed of the Stop the Polluting Port Coalition. 

“We have had three Wasatch Front dust storms in just the last two weeks,” said Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. “These dust storms shrink our mountain snowpack, are increasing in frequency and intensity, and are a significant new source of hazardous air pollution and toxic heavy metals. Draining the Great Salt Lake for more low wage warehouse jobs is an enormous mistake.” 

Joliet, IL, home to the largest inland port in the country, will run out of water by 2030, and they aren’t even in a desert.  In fact, the climate crisis is expected to increase Midwest precipitation. Joliet’s water crisis is in large part because of their inland port. Joliet’s sprawling warehouses, distribution centers, and rail lines, exactly what the port is expected to bring to Utah, are draining their water resources. The situation is so dire that Joliet’s mayor is proposing a billion-dollar pipeline to Lake Michigan. Water bills in Joliet are expected to skyrocket.

 “There is no Lake Michigan to come to Salt Lake City’s rescue. The port will only exacerbate an already serious water shortage on the Wasatch Front, dry up the Great Salt Lake further, and add more dust to our already serious pollution problems. Water is what Utah needs more than anything else, not new low wage warehouse jobs. Great Salt Lake is drying up, imperiling people through airborne dust, and birds through habitat loss. To the new Utah Inland Port Authority Board we say, ‘Where will the water come from?’”, said Heather Dove, President of Great Salt Lake Audubon. 

Members of the Stop the Polluting Port Coalition plan to attend the meeting on Wednesday to make these and other points during public comment.

Read about Joliet’s water crisis here.

Read about the Inland Empire’s (Southern California’s main inland port) air pollution problem here.