A proposed restoration project on Lake Utah has led environmental groups in Utah County to raise awareness of the ecological impacts it could have on the water body.
the Lake Utah Restoration Project proposes to dredge the bottom of the lake to build artificial islands. The project aims to create clean, clearer and safer water.
It has been rejected by environmental nonprofit groups like Conserve Utah Valley and other scientific researchers in the community.
Ben Abbott, professor of ecosystem ecology at Brigham Young University, gave a presentation to the Utah County Commission on Wednesday afternoon on the project’s impact on the lake.
Abbott said there had been misconceptions about the lake, such as that its conditions had deteriorated. He said he’s actually made progress over the past two years.
He said the current state of the lake shows biodiversity and habitat increasing and there is good terrestrial sediment. But the proposed restoration project could delay this progress.
“From an ecological point of view, here are the risks associated with this project; it changes the characteristics of the lake that are essential to its recovery and resilience, ”he said. “They say they are going to change the natural cloudiness that currently protects us from algal blooms.”
He and Craig Christensen, of the Utah Lake Conservation Coalition, urged county commissioners to talk to state lawmakers about legislation that could provide more protections for the water body.
“We have to look at this evidence, assess it carefully. But this project has claimed clearly unscientific things that Utah Lake is dying and getting worse, ”Abbott said. “If we don’t do something drastic it will be a huge mess that undermines the real restoration work we’re trying to do, including restoring people’s relationship with Utah Lake.”
George Handley, a member of Provo City Council, said he was concerned the project proposal was based on misleading information after a presentation given in December.
“We don’t normally find ourselves wanting to jump into every potential issue that might be before the state legislature,” Handley said. “But it’s such a big problem for the whole valley and the county and the different towns that depend on the lake.”
Provo city council unanimously passed a joint resolution with the mayor on Tuesday night outlining their support for the preservation and restoration of Lake Utah.
Other neighboring towns are considering adopting a similar resolution.