Satellite images show dramatic effects drought is having on the Great Salt Lake. (Photo by: FOX 13)

SALT LAKE CITY — A series of bills are being introduced designed to save the Great Salt Lake.

At a news conference, the environmental group Utah Rivers Council announced its support for a pending resolution from Sen. Nate Blouin, D-Salt Lake City, setting a goal level for the Great Salt Lake. Right now, the Great Salt Lake is at 4,190 feet. His resolution would set a goal of 4,198 feet.

"The lake we know is an economic and environmental anchor for the region," Sen. Blouin told reporters on Wednesday. "It supports billions of dollars in economic impact, millions of migratory birds and thousands of jobs. We’re all counting on the lake in one way or another."

The Utah Rivers Council is also supporting Rep. Joel Briscoe's House Bill 286, which dips into water infrastructure funding to help the Great Salt Lake. The bill diverts money from the Lake Powell Pipeline and Bear River Project toward the Great Salt Lake over the next five years.

"Want to see what your true priorities are? Look at your budget. Right now I think we need to continue to shift our priorities to the Great Salt Lake," Rep. Briscoe told FOX 13 News.

It is unclear if the Democrats' bills will have support in the Republican supermajority Utah State Legislature. Reversing the Great Salt Lake's declines has been a priority of the legislature and Governor Spencer Cox. The lake, which is at its lowest levels in recorded history, presents a public health and environmental crisis for the state as a result of water diversion, climate change and drought. There are impacts to Utah's economy, wildlife, toxic dust storms and reduced snowpack.

The drying up and potential disappearance of the Great Salt Lake is the existential crisis of our time," said Rep. Briscoe. "For every Utahn."

A series of bills are being introduced in the legislature dealing with water conservation, including plans for massive funding boosts for agriculture optimization and turf reduction. Zach Frankel, the director of the Utah Rivers Council, urged the public to call their lawmakers to support these bills.

"We all want to save the Great Salt Lake. But what does that mean?" he said.

Lynn de Freitas, the director of Friends of Great Salt Lake, said she was supportive of all these measures. She told FOX 13 News she had confidence House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, would ensure bills helping the lake would pass.

De Freitas also called for the public to do their part.

"It’s really important for the public to understand how a demonstration of their behavior changes, their commitment to mindful water conservation, is really translating into the Great Salt Lake inflows we’re talking about here," she said.

Fox 13 Reporter
Ben Winslow is FOX 13's reporter on Capitol Hill covering a wide variety of topics including politics, polygamy, vice and courts. He has been in the news business in Utah for more than 20 years now, working in radio, newspaper, television and digital news. Winslow has received numerous honors for his reporting, including a national Edward R. Murrow award; the Religion Newswriters Association Local TV News Report of the Year; the Utah Broadcaster's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Readers of Salt Lake City Weekly and Q Salt Lake have named him their "Best TV news reporter" for many years now. He co-hosts "Utah Booze News: An Alcohol Policy Podcast," covering the state's often confusing and quirky liquor laws. Winslow is also known for his very active Twitter account keeping Utahns up-to-date on important news.

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