Provo City leaders pass environmental joint resolution to protect Utah Lake
A proposed restoration project on Utah Lake has Utah County environmental groups raising awareness on the ecological impacts it could have on the body of water.
The Utah Lake Restoration Project proposes to dredge the lake bottom to build man-made islands. The project aims to create clean, clearer and safer water.
It has received pushback from environmental nonprofit groups like Conserve Utah Valley and other scientific researchers in the community.
Ben Abbott, an ecosystem ecology professor at Brigham Young University, gave a presentation to the Utah County Commission Wednesday afternoon about the project’s impact on the lake.
Abbott said there have been misconceptions about the lake, like that its conditions have worsened. He said it has actually made progress over the past couple of years.
He said the current status of the lake shows the biodiversity and habitat are increasing and there’s some good land sediment. But the proposed restoration project could set back that progress.
“From an ecological perspective, here are the risks associated with this project; it changes the characteristics of the lake that are central to its recovery and resilience,” he said. “They are saying they're going to change the natural cloudiness that currently protects us from algal blooms.”
He and Craig Christensen, with the Utah Lake Conservation Coalition, urged county commissioners to talk to state lawmakers about legislation that could provide more protections for the body of water.
“We need to look at that evidence, carefully evaluate it. But this project has claimed clearly nonscientific things that Utah Lake is dying and that it's getting worse,” Abbott said. “If we don't do something drastic, it's going to be a huge mess that's undermining the real restoration work we're trying to do, including restoring people's relationship with Utah Lake.”
George Handley, Provo City council member, said he became concerned that the project proposal has been based on misleading information after a presentation was given in December.
“We don't normally find ourselves wanting to jump into every single potential issue that might be before the state Legislature,” Handley said. “But this is an issue of such significance to the entire valley and county and the various cities that depend on the lake.”
Provo City Council unanimously passed a joint resolution with the mayor Tuesday night outlining their support for the preservation and restoration of the Utah Lake.
Other neighboring cities are considering passing a similar resolution.