Lee Harnesses Unused Budget Authority to Aid Great Salt Lake

June 13, 2023

WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) introduced the Great Salt Lake Water Stewardship Act, critical legislation that addresses the dire ecological crisis facing the Great Salt Lake.

The Great Salt Lake serves as the cornerstone of the region's ecology and economy, but it currently faces severe drought conditions that threaten its long-term existence. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the Great Salt Lake Stewardship Act proposes the expansion of the existing water conservation program under the Central Utah Project Completion Act (CUPCA) to include the entire Great Salt Lake drainage basin and allows unexpended budget authority available under CUPCA to be used for much-needed water conservation efforts.

The proposed bill would grant the Secretary of the Interior the flexibility to allocate unexpended budget authority from other sections of CUPCA towards the existing water conservation program. By expanding the geographic coverage of the program to include the entire Great Salt Lake drainage basin, the bill aims to support the efforts of the State of Utah, local communities, and water districts north of Salt Lake County in conserving water use and replenishing the lake.

The Great Salt Lake is immensely valuable to Utahns and the surrounding region. As we face ongoing drought conditions, it is crucial that we take a responsible approach to address the challenges posed to the lake,” said Sen. Lee. This bill presents a thoughtful solution by leveraging existing resources and promoting efficient water conservation practices. By utilizing unexpended budget authority, we can maximize the impact of our conservation efforts without placing an additional burden on taxpayers.

Of the bill, Gene Shawcroft, General Manager of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District said, “This legislation will provide access to program funding already provided through the Central Utah Project Completion Act program and repurpose unspent funding to elevate Utah’s water conservation efforts. This is one way to replenish and sustain the Great Salt Lake drainage basin during shifting climates. I am grateful for Senator Mike Lee and Congressman John Curtis for their leadership on the bill and the Utah delegation offices for their support.

 Of the bill, Alan Packard, General Manager of the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District said, “As Utah’s hydrology continues to evolve, water conservation has become an essential way of life for our customers. This legislative approach offers long-term and attainable solutions for addressing the ongoing challenges facing the Great Salt Lake. This legislation is vital for Utah’s water future.

Of the bill, Scott Paxman, General Manager of the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District said, “We have been actively engaged with the state legislators, State Departments of Utah and other water users in finding solutions that provide long-term benefits for the Great Salt Lake, while balancing the needs for agriculture and the growing population. This legislation led by Senator Mike Lee and Congressman John Curtis gives Utah another tool to identify and complete water conservation projects that will benefit the basin.

For bill text, click HERE.