To benefit the Great Salt Lake, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will donate more than 5,700 water shares in the North Point Consolidated Irrigation Company to the State of Utah.
The donation, believed to be the largest-ever permanent donation to benefit the Great Salt Lake, ensures water will continue to flow to the lake and preserve critical shoreline and wetland habitat in Farmington Bay.
Announced on March 15, the donation is equivalent to more than 20,000 acre-feet of water, or roughly the water supply for 20,000 single-family homes. The water was historically used for agricultural purposes, but this donation ensures that water from these shares will now flow to the lake in perpetuity.
“We’re grateful to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for this generous donation,” said Utah Governor Spencer Cox. “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.”
The Great Salt Lake is the largest saline lake in the Western Hemisphere and the eighth largest in the world. It serves as a key water resource for a complex web of regional needs, including Utah’s residential communities, agricultural production, native wildlife species, and outdoor recreation seekers.
“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,” said Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church.
The Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will manage the donation, working in collaboration with the Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Trust.
Critical Water Levels
Great Salt Lake water levels reached a historic low of just 4,1901 feet in July 2022, prompting officials to call for action to protect the natural resource.
A drying Great Salt Lake has local and regional consequences and could result in increased dust, poor air quality, reduced snow, reduced lake access, habitat loss, and negative economic consequences to the state.
“This generous donation is an exceptional contribution to ensuring water flows to preserve the lake and its special habitats, while also benefiting Utah communities, said Marcelle Shoop, Executive Director of the Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Trust. “We are extremely appreciative of this commitment being made by the Church, the efforts of the DNR, and the collaborative approach to addressing the water needs of the lake.”
Essential Water Source for the Region
The Great Salt Lake contributes $1.9 billion to Utah’s economy, provides over 7,700 jobs, supports 80 percent of Utah’s valuable wetlands, and provides irreplaceable breeding and stopover habitats for millions of birds to rest and refuel during migration each year. Lake effect snow also contributes to between 5 percent and 10 percent of Utah’s annual snowpack.
“This donation is invaluable because it’s a permanent, dedicated source of water that will benefit the lake year after year. I appreciate the collaborative effort among the Church, the DNR, and other conservation groups,” said Joel Ferry, Executive Director of the Utah DNR. “We look forward to continuing to work together to safeguard the lake.”