On Feb. 1, 2022, Conserve Utah Valley delivered a packet to members of the Utah State Senate and House. Enclosed were the following letter, along with the 6000 petition signatures from our dontpaveutahlake.org petition.
Feb. 1, 2022
We are a group of highly concerned citizens watching a process that feels already so far down the road, that we can only look to you and bring greater awareness to concerns with Utah Lake.
Utah Lake Amendments — Support of HB240 Utah Lake Amendments
As we have dug into the parties, processes, and timelines behind the current proposal just submitted to NEPA by Lake Restoration Solutions, we are alarmingly concerned that the taxpayer and citizens are protected, that the long-term consequences to an ecosystem are considered, and that we can slow down a proposal that appears to be full steam ahead while minimizing any public dialogue. This also includes a SLAPP lawsuit filed against a respected scientist and critic for $3 million. (See Sources)
Problematic in the legislation HB272 is the clause that approval may be granted by only the legislative management committee. We are addressing potentially the largest transfer of public lands in the history of Utah in exchange for dredging islands. We hope that our legislators will adopt the additional scrutiny proposed by HB240, Utah Lake Amendments that entrusts the entire Legislature, in a multi-opportunity public process to review and provide the oversight that we have entrusted to your care in such an important matter.
As our legislators, we also ask that you do all in your power to increase scrutiny with regard to the claims, financing, legality, engineering, and proposed overhaul of an entire ecosystem so that the requirement is to do ONLY what is best for the LAKE and exercise wisdom for future generations.
In addition, we appreciate the added clause that the project must be fiscally sound and fair. Taxpayers and future generations should not be left on the hook for the potential of failed engineering and long-term island maintenance, in addition to significant changes to the ecosystem. Recent research into the finances behind the transactions is murky and deserves some additional protections for clarity.
While the project has been submitted to NEPA, and we have been told NEPA controls the public process, it was discovered in the Tribune article that the applicant requested the proposal be protected. As over 90% of projects pass NEPA’s process and are approved, we are relying on you to be the guardrails and stewards of this proposal.
Please fix the process mistakes in the original bill by voting YES on HB240-Utah Lake Amendments – Rep. Keven Stratton.
Utah Lake Authority — Opposition of HB232 Utah Lake Authority
The Utah Lake Authority is patterned after the Inland Port Authority, a special service district enmeshed in scandal, bullying, and a troublesome start. This bill increases government and creates a new governmental entity with the power and authority for land use and taxing authority. As an appointed board, the legislature would be authorizing them to tax citizens in a new level of bureaucracy that consists of appointments. You are giving them the right to issue bonds and bind the taxpayers of Utah County to increased taxes. Cities, neighborhoods, and those we have elected to make important decisions will be cut out.
In its current form, HB232 has not had the benefit of public process. While the bill sponsor has said the bill has nothing to do with the Island project, it creates an authority that has power over land use in the Lake Authority map. As the Island project contemplates up to 20,000 acres of land, understanding how that authority is applied to that potential land is paramount. Representation in those decisions is also essential, and that doesn’t come through an appointed, largely anonymous to the public, board member.
We ask that you slow this process down and allow for a series of public hearings on the matter to be held over the coming year. Let’s take the time to vet the proposed authority structure with citizens, the cities, the county, and legislators. When Lake Restoration Solutions is more forthcoming with the public about the details in their plans, we can more fully vet the proposed set-up of a Lake Authority.
We ask you to vote NO on the Utah Lake Authority Bill and request it to go through more thorough vetting before adding more government.
We appreciate your service and leadership,
Executive Director, Conserve Utah Valley
- “Artificial islands as real estate? The murky finances behind the Utah Lake Restoration Project” Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 30, 2022, p. A4
- “BYU professor speaks out on lawsuit, fundraisers set up on his behalf” The Daily Herald, Jan 21, 2022
Enclosed in this packet:
- Letter from over 100 scientists and experts
- Invite to our Rally at the State Capital on February 7th, at 5 pm
- Petition with 6000 signatures against development of Utah Lake
I fully support this letter and ask you, our voice, to carefully look at the facts in this proposal, allow public input, and encourage transparency in the entire process.
Dear State Legislator’s,
Please do not approve this proposal. It will have consequences the people of Utah County should not have to deal with in the form of higher taxes to maintain what was originally public property that the state has allowed to become private property without proper public input.
This proposal will hurt wildlife and people alike. People by taking away public space used for recreation such as fishing and boating adding more pressure to other sources such as the Provo River and Deer Creek Reservoir. It may cause the water level in the lake to increase causing homes built along the shore to flood or dredging damage to the springs in the lake causing a loss of water to reduce the size of the lake leaving islands built into the lake high and dry.
It will cause a reduction in bird refuge habitat, bird nesting sites, and feeding grounds by introducing more people into these areas making them unfit for bird populations to inhabit.
It will cause more algae bloom by contributing to the phosphates in the lake through fertilizer usage on lawns and yards, water run off from cement and asphalt drives and parking spaces and more salts from treatment of snow slick pavements in winter.
It will cause more of the undesirable fish to reproduce and the islands will make it harder to control them causing the game fish to disappear even faster than they are now. It will make public use of the lake almost non-existent and maintenance almost impossible without trespassing on private property rights.
The environmental effect of this proposal could change weather patterns causing some parts of the valley to be drier than normal and others more wet. It could change wind patterns that may affect the windmills in the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon as well as West Mountain at the south of the lake causing the mountain to become more of a dust bowl than it already is or the windmills to function at reduced efficiency or impaired because of high velocity winds causing damage.
Please, gentlemen and ladies of Congress, protect this lake!
Building these fake islands around our beautiful community of Vineyard will take away the views we so love and impact us negatively by causing so much traffic to go through our neighborhoods and creating more pollution. I strongly disagree with building these islands.
I strongly oppose the creation of the islands in Utah lake that would surround Vineyard and steal our views and create more traffic.
I strongly oppose the creation of the islands in Utah lake that would surround vineyard.
Can one be sued for defamation for calling something stupid? Giving away billion’s? of dollars in public lands essentially for free. Paving multilane highways on crude dikes that will project automotive traffic noise from shore to shore (noise travels largely unimpeded over water.) This is not smart growth. Its not good for the ecology. Bird life will suffer (bald eagles, great blue herons, northern harriers, thousands of ducks). It will devastate fishing, hunting, boating, sailing, and harm all those who seek out the lake as a place of quiet solace and beauty. This is the biggest, natural, freshwater lake in the Western US. And someone wants to mostly fill it in with dirt. You can see the curvature of the earth over it, which would be lost with the proposed islands of mud and wall to wall housing. We should no more do this than give away Mount Timpanogos to developers because they’ve promised to solve the problem of forest fires by cutting down all the trees.
and paying for it by leveling off the mountain and larding the platform with suburban sprawl. (Sorry. Had to finish my thought.)
Here are my comments – taken from those I submitted to the Email sent out after the recent “Utah Lake Summit and Utah Lake Commission Meeting.” They have not added that comment yet – no doubt because it was so long , , , , In any case, these comments are also relevant to your email of today, so here they are:
UTAH LAKE – Comments on Summit to Discuss Its Recovery and Future Health – – – – Lew Burnham
I have been interested in the proposals for preservation and development of Utah Lake for at least sixty years (ever since my early days at BYU in the 1950s). I am aware of and have followed most of the major ideas and proposals put forth:
1. major and minor dredging schemes and uses of the materials extracted from the bottom,
2. various sorts of bridges and causeways, primarily to provide shorter transportation access and to move water, power, and so on, to the area where Saratoga Springs is now located,
3. along with many ideas about water quality, wildlife conservation, improvement of recreational facilities, etc.
One large issue rarely dealt with or even mentioned, in the ideas and proposals discussed, is the fact that the South end of Utah Lake is “salty” and is otherwise very poor quality water, mainly due to the fact that the largest surface source into the Lake is the Provo River, which comes in at the middle of the East side, flows relatively intact Northwest with very insufficient mixing with the rest of the Lake water (especially the water in the nearly stagnant South end). Much it then exits as the Jordan River – with the South end left to further concentrate its dissolved minerals by heavy evaporation and with too little fresh water input.
That is the main reason a causeway, another vital factor little understood or properly discussed in past years, is essential to the recovery and continuing health of the Lake. The causeway must start just North of where the Provo River enters the Lake and go pretty much straight West across – this is so the fresh river water (or at least most of it) is forced to flow first into the South end of the Lake – and then be allowed to flow into the rest of the Lake through several bridged, flow-controlled gaps spaced about evenly across the causeway. The causeway would need to be lined on both sides with large (outside) and small (inside) stones, to allow the dredged materials from the bottom of the Lake to firm up, dry and to prevent them from dissipating and spreading back into the bottom. Other than to repeat that no other way (such as a bridge) would accomplish what needs to be done, I will not go into further details at this time.
None of the above is meant to say that Provo (in coordination, of course, with the other communities surrounding the Lake) should now undertake a master recovery plan. I would suggest only a limited scope, but thorough and independent feasibility study, based on the causeway idea. I wouldn’t consider residential or commercial islands, etc. yet – in fact, I am not in favor of islands at all, except, possibly the bird sanctuary.
By the way, please don’t fantasize that you will somehow get rid of the almost poisonous smog of temperature inversions that would cover those proposed island apartments and mall shops, at the lowest level in the Valley. Those come on many winter days each year . . . .
And has anyone really thought about all the movement to, from, and between the islands? Would the Lake be full of ferries or would the residents have private boats, or would movement have to be greatly restricted? How about “Island Fever” – real or imagined fears of isolation and claustrophobia that affects many people, even those living on very large islands? I would wager that very few of those favoring building the island housing would ever consider actually living there themselves!
I would also mention evidence of what I described as “salty” / poor-quality water in the South end of the Lake and the failed attempts to use it as irrigation water, which includes:
1. In the late 1960s through most of the 1980s, a Payson fruit farmer named Reid Lee Wayman (who happens to be my wife’s brother) planted a large orchard on about 100 leased acres in what is now the Southern part of Saratoga Springs. He pumped water from the Southwest shore of the Lake and, with some limited treatment, used it in a drip-irrigation system. To make a long, sad story short, with the rapid buildup of the water’s minerals into the soil over a relatively short ten years or so, the trees began to die. First to die were the stone fruit (mainly sweet cherries, apricots, peaches, and nectarines) and then the pomme fruit (apples, pears, and Asian pears). The only remedy might have been large quantities of “pure” fresh water to flush the excess minerals from the soil – but there was none, of any sufficient quantity, so within a few more years, all the trees were dead.
2. There have been other attempts at fruit farming, using the South-end Lake water – at the far Southeast shore on the lower slopes of the back side of (Payson’s) West Mountain. I have heard that, with measures such as using greater quantities of water and mixing in other (including well) water with the Lake water, some of these ventures have been just moderately successful, so far. But I understand that their long-range prospects are likely not much better than Mr. Wayman’s results.
Finally, I think my personal experiences with the I-Provo debacle are relevant to the review of the risks and other issues of the current proposal – as well as who will have authority to approve proceeding with any or all of it. I still can’t accept how much money was needlessly wasted with the whole I-Provo process – and that waste still goes on far into the future.
Back then, I wrote and commented to City management and spoke up in review sessions about the proposed I-Provo scheme, with advice not to undertake a hasty, poorly-evaluated project, and with my predictions of what would be the result if they did it. I argued that it was based on the wrong technology, that it was too late to go into that very competitive business, that it should be left solely to private enterprise, and that Provo did not have expertise or resources for it. Sadly, my advice and that of many others was ignored. Then, actions of the Mayor and Provo Power people that tried to remedy its bad results were incompetent, feeble, and disastrously costly. Worst of all, no one was ever really held accountable for it !
Lew Burnham – – Provo
I wrote to legislators and senators opposing the Lake Authority HB364, I received a reply back from one stating that was the bill # for 2021, and the bill as introduced this year is HB0232.