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Local leaders reconvene for second Utah Lake Summit

By Ashtyn Asay - | May 5, 2022

Ashtyn Asay, Daily Herald

Local representatives answer questions at the second Utah Lake Summit held at Utah Valley University on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

The second Utah Lake Summit took place at Utah Valley University on Tuesday and addressed legislative and restorative changes recently made to the centerpiece of Utah Valley.

The public meeting was the second in a series that aims to bring together decision-makers, community members, researchers and managers to better understand and protect Utah Lake.

The Utah Lake Summit was sponsored by Conserve Utah Valley and Utah Rep. Keven Stratton. Both parties also hosted the first Utah Lake Summit, which was held at UVU in January.

The first session addressed what changes had been made regarding the lake during this past legislative session. A panel of Utah Valley legislators — including state representatives Marsha Judkins, Stephen Whyte, Nelson Abbott, Brady Brammer, Jefferson Burton and Adam Robertson — addressed this topic.

When asked how much funding had been allocated toward Utah Lake’s restoration in the past year, and what legislators had planned for that funding, Whyte responded that restoration efforts received significantly more funding than in the past.

Ashtyn Asay, Daily Herald

Utah Lake is pictured from Utah Lake State Park on Monday, April 25, 2022.

“This year if you looked at the [legislative] session was really the year of water, right. We’ve never really put the emphasis that we have this year at the legislative level,” he said. “This year we’ve made a much more significant effort. Part of that was because we had federal funding… if you look at the total of what we put in combined it was almost a billion dollars put in water.”

Several questions centered on the newly-formed Utah Lake Authority, which took effect after House Bill 232, sponsored by Brammer, passed in the recent legislative session.

“The Utah Lake Authority is a state-level entity that has a local board,” Brammer said. “They took a state asset and added a local control into it. In the past there were a lot of different groups involved in the lake, many of them are still involved, but what Utah Lake Authority is is it’s called an overlay authority, meaning that the state agencies still act in the same roles that they were acting in before, but the Utah Lake Authority allows for some additional local decision-making.”

When asked what the Utah Lake Authority would change for cities, the public and general management, Brammer responded that the authority will give local cities more input than they previously had on the Utah Lake Commission.

“The cities that are around the lake… will have a whole lot more say than they had previously on the lake commission,” Brammer said.

According to Stratton, constituents often tell him that more restoration efforts are necessary to improve Utah Lake. While he agrees that change is necessary, he wants to be sure that no hasty decisions are made regarding the lake.

“Our lake is a very complex issue,” Stratton said. “Without question, we do agree that Utah Lake right now isn’t its best version. … We need to give it attention, we need to get remediation done and some improvement done.”

The second session of the summit addressed the status of current restoration and research efforts being made on the lake and included representatives from the Utah Department of Natural Resources, Mitigation Commission, Walkara Way Project and the Timpanogos Special Service District. A third Utah Lake Summit will take place this summer.

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