Question by Ogden area reader

The 2022 legislative session was an important year for Great Salt Lake, according to Candace Hasenyager, director at the Utah Division of Water Resources. 

“Many of the legislative acts that happened in 2022 are the result of prior acts and research,” said Hasenyager. 

By Collaborative partner Deseret News’ count, seven major bills are crucial to the lake’s future, including:

HB410 introduced the Great Salt Lake watershed enhancement program, which will identify sustainability and conservation strategies for the lake through a $40 million trust.

HB429 will aid coordination among water agencies through a $5 million Great Salt Lake Integrated Water Assessment. 

HB157 ensures that money from the Sovereign Lands Management account is spent on sovereign lands management, emphasizing Great Salt Lake. 

To read a detailed analysis, and about other laws that will encourage conservation, go to this story.

Emily Lewis, a water attorney at Clyde Snow, told the Great Salt Lake Collaborative that HB33 is another crucial bill. It allows sovereign lands, including Great Salt Lake, to be legally considered as a beneficial use for water. 

“Prior to 2022, Utah had a very limited ability to use water for instream flows,” Lewis said. 

That’s because holders of water rights had to use their water or lose it. Now, the process of leasing water rights will be more accessible. 

“You do have to connect the use of the water to a mission of one of the state’s agencies,” Lewis said. 

– Reported and written by McCaulee Blackburn