Developer’s plan for Utah Lake threatens to be an ‘unmitigated disaster’

Utah Lake. Photo by Brent Dalling from Unsplash

By now, most have heard of the proposal for Utah Lake, proposed by a new company called “Lake Restoration Solutions.” It doesn’t take a deep dive into the proposal to see that it does anything but restore the lake. It involves dredging the lake, and building artificial islands. To pay for the project about half of  the 18,000 acres of islands will go to private development, with the intention of building a city of up to 500,000 people. The lake is currently managed as public lands. 

There was an excellent Op Ed in the Salt Lake Tribune last week refuting all the supposed reasons why we should allow private developers to dredge Utah Lake and build 34 artificial islands with the dredging fill to house 500,000 people on those fantasy islands.

In short:  

1.  The Lake isn’t a “cesspool” and paving over 20% of it with brick, asphalt and cement certainly won’t “restore” anything.

2.  The lake is already improving after multiple natural steps are already underway. Algae blooms and non-native fish are declining, and native fish are recovering.

3.  Evaporation, wind, and waves are net positives, not net negatives, they are part of the natural cycle of lake moisture. “Evaporation provides moisture for rain and cooling in warmer months, and potentially adding much needed snowpack in winter. Wind and waves keep the water mixed and help prevent fish kills in summer.”

4. “Healthy sediment removes pollutants and provides [marine] habitat. Dredging and island-city building can release pollutants and would alter the structure and chemistry of the lake, likely making algal blooms more frequent and damaging.”

5.  Adding up to 500,000 more people to Utah County would be an environmental disaster in and of itself, made even worse by plopping them down on artificial islands in the middle of Utah Lake.  Can anyone name an example where throwing half a million people into an ecosystem cleaned up or improved the environment?

6.  For the entire time of the dredging, a minimum of eight years, inflow to the Great Salt Lake from the Jordan River would be decreased, making the GSL shrink further, making our dust storms even worse.

This is a get-rich quick scheme by developers selling Utah Lake snake oil. No one should be buying it, not the public, the governor, the legislature, the EPA, or the Army Corp of Engineers.

Read the full op-ed here!

You can still sign the petition opposing the Utah Lake development project here!

Read more about Utah Lake and UPHE’s take on it here.

Utah Lake. Photo by Brent Dalling from Unsplash