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LDS Church, municipalities announce plans to save Great Salt Lake

By Genelle Pugmire - | Mar 15, 2023

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

The Great Salt Lake, photographed from Antelope Island on April 23, 2022.

The status of the Great Salt Lake has been on the minds of thousands of residents, stakeholders and politicians from its shores to Washington, D.C.

To help with the drought-laden Great Salt Lake, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Wednesday it has agreed to donate over 5,700 water shares in the North Point Consolidated Irrigation Company to the state of Utah in one of the largest permanent donations to benefit the lake

It also solidifies that water will continue to flow into the lake and it will help save the critical shoreline and wetland habitat of Farmington Bay.

The donation is equivalent to over 20,000 acre-feet, or up to 50 cubic feet per second of water, about the size of Little Dell Reservoir. The water was historically used for agricultural purposes.

“We’re grateful to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for this generous donation,” Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said in a press release. “This water donation will make a real difference to the lake and the future of our state. The Great Salt Lake is a critical asset environmentally, ecologically and economically, and we all need to work together to protect and preserve it.”

Briana Scroggins, Standard-Examiner file photo

The ground is dry and cracked at Farmington Bay in Hooper on Aug. 12, 2014.

This agreement will help with future partnerships and build systems to better track water delivery to the lake.

“The Great Salt Lake and the ecosystem that depends on it are so important. The Church wants to be part of the solution because we all have a responsibility to care for and be good stewards of the natural resources that God has given to us. We invite others to join with us to help,” Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, first counselor in the presiding bishopric of the church, said in a press release.

The Utah Department of Natural Resources will manage the donation, working in collaboration with the Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Trust.

The LDS Church’s donation comes following another water saving announcement that 12 municipalities will be selling, at discounted prices, rain barrels to residents to collect water — reducing demand across four Great Salt Lake counties. It is a return of the RainHarvest program.

“We’ve saved millions of gallons of water through this program over the last eight years,” said Zach Frankel, Executive Director of the Utah Rivers Council. “These twelve municipalities are leading us on a path through this mega drought that all Utahns need to follow. We are grateful to them for their leadership.”

Courtesy Utah Rivers Council

The Ivy Rain barrel was distributed to residents of northern Utah.

Residents of Lehi and Orem join those in a handful of cities across Summit, Weber and Salt Lake counties, along with customers of Mountain Regional Water. Residents can purchase discount rain barrels for $55 each.

To purchase discounted rain barrels, residents must go through a verification process to ensure they live within a participating municipality. Rain barrels are available to all Utahns for $83 outside of the select areas. Purchased rain barrels will be distributed to residents at four locations after the sale closes in late-April.

“In addition to saving water for our depleted lakes and rivers, this program is an exceptional tool for participants in diversifying their water saving strategies at their home,” said Matt Taylor, Orem City senior planner.

Rain barrels are one of many tools Utahns can use to reduce water use. Every time a 50-gallon barrel is filled with rain, 400,000 gallons of water can be saved from municipal water supplies. The environmentally-friendly program uses the Ivy Rain barrel.

“According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, 30% of daily water is used outdoors. In the Snyderville Basin, that number is closer to 55%,” Andy Garland, the General Manager of Mountain Regional Water, said in a press release. “Mountain Regional Water is pleased to continue our partnership with the Utah Rivers Council to offer residents the opportunity to affordably conserve water through rainwater collection by purchasing a heavily discounted rain collection barrel.”


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