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Saving Great Salt Lake now will save Utah billions, Rep. Brad Wilson says

As Great Salt Lake dries up it exposes lakebed dirt that contains toxins, including arsenic. The greatest concern is this dirt will erode and become airborne dust that would expose millions of residents along the Wasatch Front.

Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives, Brad Wilson, is planning additional legislation to address the shrinking Great Salt Lake.

“What do we do to solve it? Otherwise, no one, no one is going to want to live anywhere on the Wasatch Front, if we don't fix that problem. We'll have to fix it one way or the other. Let's fix it now,” Brad Wilson said.

Wilson used the example of Owen’s Lake in California and the amount of money spent to control toxic dust left by a much smaller lake. He says that tackling the problem now will save Utah billions of dollars.

“The amount of money that California has had to spend to deal with the consequences of that desiccated lake, and multiply it by the size of this lake, we're talking about a 32, plus, billion dollar problem,” Wilson said.

Wilson says several options are on the table for the new legislation.

“So we're going to talk about everything from these really big ideas of piping water into the state to dealing with additional conservation. How do we, in particular, work with our agricultural community to increase agricultural optimization?” said Wilson.

According to Wilson, the agriculture industry accounts for two-thirds or three-fourths of the state’s water use. He wants to see more investment in developing technologies to increase water use optimization in this sector. Here he says, “A small investment goes along way.”

This story is published through the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that partners news, education and media organizations to help inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake—and what can be done to make a difference before it is too late. Read all of our stories at

Max is a neuroscientist and science reporter. His research revolves around an underexplored protein receptor, called GPR171, and its possible use as a pharmacological target for pain. He reports on opioids, outer space and Great Salt Lake. He loves Utah and its many stories.