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Lake Restoration Solutions begins NEPA assessment process

By Ashtyn Asay - | Jan 6, 2022

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald file photo

Utah Lake is seen from the Provo/Jordan River Parkway on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021.

Lake Restoration Solutions has filed an application for the necessary permits to move forward with the Utah Lake Restoration Project. The project must undergo rigorous assessment from a federal agency before any permits can be issued.

Lake Restoration Solutions owns the Utah Lake Restoration Project, a proposal to dredge Utah Lake in order to create man-made islands, which would then be used for commercial and recreational purposes. According to Jon Benson, president and COO of Lake Restoration Solutions, dredging the lake and creating islands would ultimately restore and enhance the lake.

“We propose a comprehensive restoration and enhancement of Utah Lake to a healthy, vibrant, usable body of water that benefits Utah County and the entire state,” Benson said in a press release. “The environmental improvements we propose are significant, scientifically based and represent an investment of billions of dollars toward restoring Utah Lake to a healthy state. We can’t wait to share with the public the many benefits of the project.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be conducting an assessment on the Utah Lake Restoration Project. The assessment is mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of proposed actions as well as reasonable alternatives before any federal action can be taken.

This application will be prepared by Geosyntec Consultants, an engineering consulting firm that works with private and public sector businesses. Geosyntec Consultants has offices across the United States, including Salt Lake City, and in Europe and the United Arab Emirates.

The permitting process could take one to two years, it entails a full NEPA review, as well as a public process that, according to Lake Restoration Solutions, will thoroughly vet the merits of the Utah Lake Restoration Project and the scientific information that they have provided.

The Utah Lake Restoration Project has received significant pushback from various conservation groups.  Provo, American Fork and Cedar Hills have also all signed resolutions supporting environmental protections for Utah Lake. However, Benson feels any negative judgments the project has received have been premature.

“Because the permitting and NEPA process is data driven and requires a thorough vetting of the scientific merits and public interest, including both public comment and submission of contrary evidence if any exists, we find it mystifying that activists with academic credentials would have the audacity to spread the falsehood that our proposal lacks scientific support, without having reviewed our scientific evidence,” said Benson. “This application filing initiates a lengthy review process, and there is no need to make premature judgments. We ask for a fair, objective, and unbiased review of our data, and we’re confident the science will stand up to a rigorous review.

“Utah has a proud history of working together to solve problems. We embrace a diversity of opinions, and think that by careful and thoughtful collaboration, we can and will succeed with this comprehensive ecological effort, leaving a legacy that we’re proud to pass on to our grandchildren,” Benson said.

More information on the NEPA process is available at http://epa.gov/nepa. More information on the Utah Lake Restoration Project can be found at http://lakerestorationsolutions.com.


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