Governor Cox rescinds support of US Magnesium canal expansion

We’re all well aware of the state of Great Salt Lake, and the threats we face if it continues to decline. That’s why, most of us were shocked and fearful when we heard of US Magnesium’s application to expand canals that extract water from Great Salt Lake for their operations. Thank you to everyone that submitted comments. 

View of Salt Lake City from across the Great Salt Lake.

We applaud Governor Cox’s office for taking a firmer stand against allowing US Magnesium to dig deeper canals and continue siphoning off water from the Great Salt Lake. And that’s a welcome change after his office supported it last spring.

We have posted numerous local and national stories about the disappearing Great Salt Lake and the consequences of allowing that to happen. New canals would allow US Magnesium to siphon off 100,000 gallons a minute from the lake.

The Salt Lake Tribune covered the recent shift in mindset, quoting previous support for the expansion from the Governor’s office in relation to the production of lithium, used in rechargeable batteries and sustainable technology. The Tribune reported, however, “US Magnesium produces its lithium from existing waste piles… not from fresh brine drawn from the Great Salt Lake.” 

Utah residents rightfully became alarmed at the prospect of more lake diversions and flooded the Division of Water Quality with opposition comments. In our view, it’s the show of public opposition that turned the Governor’s office to oppose Mag Corp’s application. When citizens get engaged we can drive even a resistant state government to better public policy.

The Tribune also reported a breakdown of water extraction from Great Salt Lake. “A 2016 white paper authored by scientists at Utah State University, Salt Lake Community College and the Utah Department of Natural Resources found salt pond mineral extraction diverts 13% of the water that would otherwise flow to the Great Salt Lake. Municipal and industrial use, by comparison, accounts for 11% of diversion and agriculture uses 63%. The lake’s mineral extraction industry also contributes $1.3 billion to the state economy each year according to research commissioned by the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council.” 

With the state of the lake and the threats we are facing as a result, no further extraction should be considered. We also need to urgently assess our use of the lake. Agriculture especially, being the biggest source of diversion. 

Read more from the Tribune here.