Correcting Misinformation Used to
Justify Constructing a Large Private
Island City in Utah Lake*
1. Utah Lake is in bad shape. It’s a cloudy cesspool, an eyesore, a mud puddle.
Correction: Many agree that Utah Lake has significant challenges and could use more help, but the lake is indeed improving in most areas (see below). It’s naturally shallow and turbid. That’s healthy for the lake. Muddy marshes around the lake help clean the water and provide important habitat for fish and birds. Thirty-five million migratory birds and ten million fish call Utah Lake home. Damaging our public lake with a large island city would disrupt wildlife throughout Utah and the western U.S.
2. For decades, efforts to help the lake have proven futile and things are getting worse.
Correction: Although Utah Lake needs more help, in many aspects the lake is actually improving. Utah Lake is on a road to recovery thanks to hundreds of science-based restoration projects undertaken over the past 30 years. Algal blooms are declining, except for Provo Bay and some parts of the eastern shore near nutrient-laden wastewater inputs. But many helpful, restorative projects are underway. Eighty percent of the carp have been removed and the Provo River Delta and other tributaries are being restored so more fresh water flows into the lake. Native species are better able to breed. The native June Sucker is no longer listed as endangered.
3. Utah Lake needs to be dredged to restore it.
Correction: According to environmental scientists at BYU, UVU and USU, dredging all or much of the lake would be harmful. Dredging can release pollutants that are currently safely locked up in sediments. Dredging and building a large city in our lake would alter the structure and chemistry of the lake, allowing increased light penetration which would actually increase algae growth and compromise the natural hydrology and biology that make Utah Lake so resilient. Utah Lake’s natural shallowness and waves help prevent fish kills and release of redox-sensitive pollutants from sediment (phosphorus and mercury). The lake’s natural cloudiness protects against algal bloom formation.
4. Utah Lake evaporation, wind, and waves need to be fixed.
Correction: In fact, these natural characteristics of the lake make it incredibly resilient and provide essential services to our community. Lake evaporation is very helpful; providing moisture for rain and cooling in warmer months, and much needed snow for our world-class skiing. Evaporation constantly removes nutrients and pollutants. Wind and waves keep the water mixed and prevent fish kills during the summer.
6. The EPA has given the Utah Lake project a fabulous endorsement, and the project is based on sound environmental science.
Correction: The EPA has not endorsed any project to dredge Utah Lake and build a large city in its midst. Independent environmental scientists criticize the project as being harmful and not based on sound environmental science.
7. The island city project would restore Utah Lake to a healthy state at no expense to taxpayers. The island city would add lovely views of the commercially developed private islands.
Correction: This is clearly false on many levels. By action of the state legislature, taxpayers allegedly are obligated to guarantee up to $10 million in loans for a private company proposing to “restore” Utah Lake provided they can build their own large city in the lake. If the company goes bankrupt or bails, taxpayers could be responsible to repay state-backed loans. The construction of a privately owned island city occupying up to 1/5 of the Lake’s surface and housing up to 500,000 residents—a city more than twice the size of Salt Lake City—would harm the lake’s ecosystem and could cost taxpayers many millions to correct. A large island city would increase air pollution, habitat destruction, waste generation, harmful runoff, water consumption, traffic congestion and both noise and light pollution. In the view of many, it would deface our valley and betray the legacy of those who lived here before—none more so than the Timpanogos people who relied on, and were wise stewards of the lake. For the Timpanogos and other native people, Utah Lake is sacred and must not be desecrated by an island city.
To help Utah Lake
and stop this harmful project, please
5. Billions are needed to restore the lake, and that’s not possible without privatization.
Correction: Utah Lake can be restored for a fraction of the quoted amount and without harmful dredging and deeding away up to 1/5 of our public treasure. As mentioned above, many helpful, successful, restorative projects are underway, and more will be done with governmental support. Again, Utah Lake is now on the road to recovery.
8. The lake has no functioning facilities for visitors.
Correction: Our Lake has many visitor facilities including the popular Utah Lake State Park, Lindon Boat Harbor, American Fork Boat Harbor, Shoreline Park in Lehi, Inlet Park, Marina Park and Jumbers Point in Saratoga Springs, Pelican Point, and the popular Lincoln Beach near Spanish Fork. With over 25 public access points and a growing trails network, Utah Lake provides many recreational opportunities in our own backyard.
*Compiled by the UVEF with corrections believed to be supported by many .