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Great Salt Lake is at its lowest water level on record and continues to shrink. Utah Public Radio has teamed up with more than a dozen Utah organizations for the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a group that has come together to share multimedia stories and rigorous reports about the lake and ways to protect this critical body of water before it's too late.

Utah Senate confirms Brian Steed as state's first-ever Great Salt Lake commissioner

Brian Steed, Great Salt Lake commissioner
Levi Sim
Utah State University
Brian Steed, Great Salt Lake commissioner

The Utah Senate convened the afternoon of June 14 for a confirmation vote on Brian Steed's appointment as Great Salt Lake Commissioner. They voted unanimously to confirm him in the position.

Steed is currently a member of the Great Salt Lake Strike Team and heads USU’s Institute for Land, Water and Air, making him a highly qualified choice for the position that was created during the last legislative session. A hearing for Steed’s nomination occurred in May, with unanimous support.

The position is designed to bring together many different state agencies that are involved in managing Great Salt Lake to share ideas and come up with a plan for saving the lake.

"You can bring people together and work as a quarterback trying to direct the efforts of these various state agencies, so that we actually have a more comprehensive and more effective plan on saving the Great Salt Lake," Steed said.

Steed will officially begin his role as Great Salt Lake Commissioner on July 1. In the months following, Steed will work with agencies to come up with a strategy for preserving Great Salt Lake's future. That strategy will be presented to the Utah Legislature in November.

“Ultimately, the goal is to get more water to the lake in the short term — we know that we have had really low lake levels; thank goodness for the last winter where we had really high precipitation. But one good year is not enough," Steed said. "We know that and what we'd like to do to bring the levels back up so that we don't have salinity issues with low salinity or dust issues, because we have those low lake levels, and we have exposed lake beds. So, working on both those issues, both are going to require a conscientious effort to make sure that there's enough water in the lake."

Steed has consistently expressed his commitment to Great Salt Lake and working together to create a better future for the state, through his role on the strike team, at USU and with the Great Salt Lake Collaborative.

“I'm excited to get to work. And I think that there are good opportunities ahead. I'm optimistic that we can make a real difference and make improvements on the lake. But it's going to take all of us together,” Steed remarked.

This article 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

Erin Lewis is a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a PhD Candidate in the biology department at Utah State University. She is passionate about fostering curiosity and communicating science to the public. At USU she studies how anthropogenic disturbances are impacting wildlife, particularly the effects of tourism-induced dietary shifts in endangered Bahamian Rock Iguana populations. In her free time she enjoys reading, painting and getting outside with her dog, Hazel.