WEBER COUNTY, Utah — Flood mitigation and preserving the Great Salt Lake are at the top of mind for many in the state, but fortunately, one is greatly helping the other.

On Thursday, the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District opened the spillway gates from Willard Bay and diverted millions of gallons of water into the Great Salt Lake, part of the billions being diverted in Weber County every day.

Once seen as "useless," Willard Bay is now a great resource for helping the lake's ecology.

"We're not only filling our reservoirs, but we're adding to the health and vitality of the Great Salt Lake," said Scott Paxton, General Manager and CEO of the district.

"It's dumping about 650 million gallons per day and that's significant. Right now we're delivering the entire Ogden and Weber River which is 3.3 billion gallons per day," he added. "I don't know how many swimming pools that is, but I think that's about 21,000."

Water from Willard Bay that will flow into Gilbert Bay also supports thousands of water birds.

"It helps freshen that water and provides the kind of environment where vegetation can thrive, and we have the vertebrates these species need," said Marcelle Shoop, Director of the National Audubon Society's Saline Lakes Program.

Utah House of Representatives Leader Mike Shultz says that the Willard Bay water release is also helping to mitigate flooding in Weber County.

"Infrastructure that was built in the 60s is allowing us to still get that water directly into the Great Salt Lake," he said, helping to reduce flooding in Western Weber County.

But both Paxton and Shultz say water conservation is still critical, meaning water use for each person needs to be reduced significantly.

"We can't create any more water. What we can do is conserve, and (build) the infrastructure to conserve water," said Shultz.

"We need to make sure we have enough water for generations to come, and make sure we can maintain the health of the Great Salt Lake for generations to come."

FOX13 News Reporter
Darienne DeBrule Reporter SOCIALdarienne.debrule dariennedebrule dariennedb Darienne is from Draper, Utah and is so excited to start her broadcast journalism career in her home state! She graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Communications and Political Science. She did an independent research study her senior year on colorism in minority communities and hopes to continue to explore social issues across racial and ethnic groups throughout her career. Her journey at FOX 13 News started in February 2022 when she was an intern and upon graduation in May, moved to a new role on the Assignment Desk, and eventually fulfilled her goal of becoming a reporter in October 2022.

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