SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Utah Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson took a boat tour of the Great Salt Lake Tuesday to see low water levels firsthand.
“Well, we saw a lake that was really low and in dire need of attention,” said Henderson. “It’s the first time I’ve actually been out on a boat on the Great Salt Lake.”
The lake has garnered national headlines because of record low water levels. Scientists are worried about the environmental, economic, and ecological consequences of a shrinking lake.
“We must save it,” said Henderson. “There’s a lot riding on this lake and it’s going to take long-term effort from everybody to be able to turn this around.”
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Utah lawmakers did pass a series of bills related to water and water conservation in this year’s regular legislative session. But some lake advocates worry it’s not enough.
“It was big progress but, no, it’s never enough until we have more water in the lake,” said Steve Erickson of the Great Basin Water Network. “That’s going to be a continuing challenge given climate change.”
Even as some activists yearn for stronger action to address the lake’s issues, they also admit this year has been a turning point in how Utah’s elected leaders view the lake.
“I think this year was a seminal year in that regard,” said Erickson. “This legislative session, the attention paid, the priority given to the lake and water issues more generally.”
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“We still have work to do but I’m not gonna complain,” said Jaimi Butler of the Great Salt Lake Institute. “I saw a paradigm shift this year.”
Henderson also admits that all Utahns, even elected leaders, are now paying attention to something they’ve ignored in the past.
“I served in the state senate for eight years before I became Lieutenant Governor and we really didn’t talk a lot about the Great Salt Lake,” said Henderson. “So for the past few years, especially the last couple years, we’ve really focused on the Great Salt Lake.”