Governor Spencer Cox speaks at Utah State University's Janet Quinney Lawson Institute for Land, Water & Air on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022.(Photo by: John Eulberg, FOX 13 News)

LOGAN, Utah  — Governor Spencer Cox said more money will be needed to expand water conservation measures and save the Great Salt Lake.

At a forum on Thursday hosted at Utah State University's Janet Quinney Lawson Institute for Land, Water & Air, the governor was peppered with questions submitted by students. They focused largely on the Great Salt Lake and drought.

Asked bluntly "will we all die with the Great Salt Lake?" the governor said there is a lot of money and resources being put into reversing the damage done to the lake. Gov. Cox referenced a trip that lawmakers took in Utah National Guard helicopters over the shinking lake, which he said motivated lawmakers to step up and pass major water conservation measures and funding to help.

"I'm very optimistic about the Great Salt Lake and preserving it and making sure we all don’t die," he said.

The governor said his optimism stemmed from increasing willingness of the public and policy-makers to save the lake. Gov. Cox said scientists at the University of Utah and Utah State University have told him it is not too late.

That view was shared by Brian Steed, the former director of Utah's Department of Natural Resources and now the director of the Institute for Land, Water & Air.

"We have work to do, yes. But in doing that work, I think we put ourselves in a position to where we can save these really important resources," Steed told FOX 13 News. "For the Great Salt Lake? We’re going to have to figure out how to get more water there. That’s probably going to involve more ag efficiency, it's going to involve more conservation on a local scale, but i think Utah is up to the challenge."

Gov. Cox said they do not know how long the drought will last and with a changing climate, "we have to act as if this is going to continue." He said agriculture producers, the state's top user of water, will have to make changes. The governor called for continued incentives to get agriculture producers to pivot to new technologies that use less water but can yield more crops.

For residential water users, the governor also said incentives to get people to ditch non-functional turf in favor of water-saving landscapes is yielding big successes with demand increasing by more than 500%.

"We don’t have enough money. We’ll get more," he said of incentives.

The governor predicted the Utah State Legislature would invest more money into conservation measures and advance more bills reacting to the drought and the Great Salt Lake.


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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