Great Salt Lake ignored by legislature, op-ed

GSL by Felton Davis March 2023.

Utah Rivers Council had an excellent op-ed in the Cheyenne Post covering Governor Cox’s recent speech at the Future of Great Salt Lake Conference last week, mentioning that he didn’t even bring up the lake until the 19th minute of his 25 minute speech. 

The Legislature promised to make Great Salt Lake a priority last session and then used a heavy snowfall late in the session as an excuse not to. The public knows Great Salt Lake needs much more than heavy snowfall to save it. Water diversions are a large portion of the issue. 

UPHE’s Dr. Brian Moench was quoted in the article, “Science has demonstrated the primary cause of the lake drying up is not the drought or the climate crisis, but diverting the lake’s inflow. Alfalfa receives two-thirds of all that diverted water. Utah has a decision to make. We can grow a lot of alfalfa, let the lake disappear, and live in a toxic dust bowl, or we can buy out alfalfa farmers. It’s an easy, straightforward choice, but so far our lawmakers refuse to make the right choice.”

When asked about SCR6, a piece of legislation introduced last session to raise the minimum level of the lake, Governor Cox was quoted saying  “It didn’t pass. I don’t care. It’s fine. Whatever.” The goal of the bill was to set a minimum target elevation of 4,198 feet for the Great Salt Lake. That elevation level has been supported by a range of scientists as “the minimum healthy level to avoid habitat loss and air quality disaster affecting lakeshore residents across four counties,” according to the article. 

Find the full op-ed here.