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What you can do to save the drying Great Salt Lake

Utah Department of Natural Resources

Legislation and water projects are making progress on protecting Great Salt Lake water levels, but individual actions make a significant difference too. Here’s what you can do to help conserve water for the lake.

Laura Vernon, the Great Salt Lake coordinator for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands said we also need to do our part as individuals.

“Individual people like you and I can make a difference. If people...are using less water overall, then there's less of a demand for large water projects in the future. So by us needing less water, we're doing a favor to the lake,” Vernon explained.

Fortunately for Utahns looking to conserve water, a number of new initiatives are on the table to help us do just that.

Old water appliances are common water wasters, and recently Utah started offering rebates for replacing old toilets. Shortening showers and upgrading showerheads can help too, but Sarah Null, an Associate Professor in Watershed Sciences at Utah State University, said we can make greater leaps elsewhere.

“Taking shorter showers, that's usually not where water conservation comes in. Some really important places where water conservation makes a huge change is in terms of outdoor landscaping. So moving towards plant species that can be watered less or require less water,” Null said.

Regarding landscaping initiatives, the “Flip Your Strip” project offers rebates to residents who convert curbside lawn to drought tolerant landscaping, which can reduce water consumption by up to 8,000 gallons of water a year. Utah also offers rebates for smart sprinkler controllers, and Localscapes offers free online classes for anyone looking to convert lawn to local plants.

Fortunately, Utah has already made some progress conserving water and change will come with perseverance and time.

“There's not one silver bullet that's going to instantly solve our problem, we've got to take baby steps over time to work on getting water to the lake,” Vernon said.

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Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.
Ellis Juhlin is a science reporter here at Utah Public Radio and a Master's Student at Utah State. She studies Ferruginous Hawk nestlings and the factors that influence their health. She loves our natural world and being part of wildlife research. Now, getting to communicate that kind of research to the UPR listeners through this position makes her love what she does even more. In her free time, you can find her outside on a trail with her partner Matt and her goofy pups Dodger and Finley. They love living in a place where there are year-round adventures to be had!