'Strike Team' releases new report on declining Great Salt Lake water levels
The Great Salt Lake Strike Team has announced findings from a new report about Great Salt Lake water levels and policy suggestions to reverse lake declines. The Strike Team includes researchers from Utah State University, the University of Utah, and representatives from state agencies.
Brian Steed, the executive director of the new Janet Quinney Lawson Institute for Land, Water, and Air at USU, provided an overview of the new report at this month’s Kem C. Gardner Newsmaker Breakfast. Included in the report were suggestions for creating target lake levels as lawmakers and environmental agencies attempt to allocate more water to Great Salt Lake.
“Currently, we are in what is identified as ‘serious adverse effects’, which means we're seeing concerns over salinity, as salinity has risen to the point where we're not seeing the same production of either brine shrimp or brine flies that we'd like to see. As well as just seeing some overall concerns on the health of the lake,” Steed said.
“We think that setting a lake level is important, because it's a target range and it's something that the state can work towards," Steed explained. "There has been a lot of conversation and it's been grim, about well, ‘all is lost’. I think that we absolutely can make a difference on our choices going forward, and those differences can make a real impact.”
“We identified 11 different options; they really fall in three tranches. One is conservation. Another is finding new water. And the third is working with engineering solutions on the existing lake to manage the lake as a more managed ecosystem,” Steed detailed.
Steed added that some Utah policymakers have been hesitant to set a target lake level, but argued that setting a goal will allow the state to gauge how effective water conservation measures are working.