May 1, 2023 — Utah’s Governor Spencer Cox made a bold move in February by ordering a five-foot increase in the Great Salt Lake Causeway berm, and it is yielding impressive results. KSL TV5 reports that the south end of the Great Salt Lake has risen by four feet, accompanied by a decrease in salinity levels. With this year’s outstanding snowpack melting and contributing to the lake, the lowered salinity will allow brine shrimp and flies to hatch, providing essential sustenance for migrating birds.
If the situation requires it, the berm’s height can be adjusted or even removed altogether, offering flexibility to adapt to the lake’s ever-changing environment.
Utah officials are acutely aware that the berm project is only a temporary solution and that the challenges facing the Great Salt Lake are far from over. To develop a sustainable plan, they are seeking Israel’s expertise. Israel is renowned for its cutting-edge water management strategies and nationalized water system. Water conservation, alternative water sources like treated wastewater, and investment in pioneering startup technologies were among the ideas discussed, according to the Standard Examiner.
The Audubon Society notes that “As of late April 2023, the Great Salt Lake is almost four feet higher than its all-time low in November 2022.” However, they also emphasize the importance of long-term planning and conservation efforts. Karyn Stockdale, Audubon’s Western Water Initiative Senior Director, writes, “Great Salt Lake has a massive water deficit, and this is just one exceptional year of precipitation. We still need to do our part—embracing water conservation measures, dedicating water to the lake through voluntary partnerships, and acting in strategic ways to ensure lasting protection for the lake and the people, birds, and wildlife who depend on it.” Last June, Audubon and The Nature Conservancy were authorized by Utah’s legislature to oversee the new Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Program.