New GSL water restrictions – is it enough?

Great Salt Lake. Photo by Baxternator on iStock.

Great Salt Lake has been a major topic of discussion, here in Utah, and nationally. The good news is that with all of the attention and pressure to preserve our quality of life on the Wasatch Front, steps are finally being taken to conserve water. 

Governor Cox issued a proclamation that prevents any new water diversions from Great Salt Lake. This means no new applications for water diversions will be considered. 

Declining water levels are worrisome for a variety of reasons. As an air quality advocacy and physician group, the effect the dust from recently exposed lake bed has on our health is our main concern. Lower levels also affect snowpack on the mountains, and can completely destroy the snow sport economy and recreational appeal of the Wasatch Front.

While this is a positive step in the right direction, we still need to do more to conserve water and save the Great Salt Lake. This is why UPHE keeps a vigilant eye on projects that contradict the state’s stated mission to protect water supply, such as US Magnesium’s recent application to expand their canals and extract more water from the lake. 

The Utah Division of Water Quality is accepting public comments regarding US Magnesium’s permit to extend two intake canals until Monday, November 14th. Click here to see the toolkit and more info on how to submit a comment. 

US Magnesium is a major contributor to shrinking lake levels. In a typical year, they extract more water from the lake than the cities of Ogden, Provo, and Salt Lake City combined. They intentionally evaporate away more than 40 billion gallons of water a year to turn a profit for a few billionaires and the military industrial complex – all this while millions of pounds of chlorine and many other toxins are spewed across thousands of acres of lake bed and into our airshed. 

Read the Deseret News’ coverage of Governor Cox’s proclamation here.