Opinion: Utah Lake project welcomes constructive criticism
We trust that misinformation from a few with their own agendas will not obscure the many benefits the Utah Lake Restoration Project offers to everyone
The Utah Lake Restoration Project is designed to provide a comprehensive restoration and enhancement plan for Utah Lake.
As the second driest and the fastest growing state in the country, Utah is now in a two-decades-long mega drought and could desperately use the 30 billion gallons of additional annual water supply the project would provide. That is just one of many benefits that dredging and deepening the lake will provide.
Lake Restoration Solutions has worked for years to assemble the plan, the expert team of scientists, researchers and engineers, and the funding to achieve what many thought impossible.
As news outlets have reported, Lake Restoration Solutions has filed a defamation lawsuit against an individual who has made false claims including that the project team does not include Ph.D. scientists and that it is funded by shady foreign money. These false claims are simply not true.
In recent days, irresponsible opinions have come forward in this newspaper and elsewhere accusing LRS of filing a so-called SLAPP suit — strategic lawsuit against public participation. Again, this is simply not true, as the legal process will prove. Lake Restoration Solutions welcomes thorough, science-based scrutiny of the project, but spreading misinformation just to prejudice the process is out of bounds.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, is about to undertake an extensive and transparent public vetting of the project. That examination demands that the best science be applied and that both data and public opinion be considered from all perspectives. We welcome that process and are confident in the professional work of our team of world class experts. In the end, what everyone wants and deserves is a clean and healthy Utah Lake, not one that is plagued by toxic algal blooms.
We invite new ideas and constructive criticism, and have spent years meeting with interested parties and government officials proactively seeking that kind of input. Critique often leads to improved plans, and we’ve already made significant modifications based on insightful feedback. We believe that kind of collaboration yields the best outcome.
We trust that misinformation from a few with their own agendas will not obscure the many benefits the Utah Lake Restoration Project offers to everyone: Deepening the lake to improve boating and water quality, 30 billion gallons of water saved annually from evapotranspiration, new estuary islands for migratory birds and fish habitat, recreation islands with public beaches, camping, and trails, waterfront property for both public and private use, and a cleaner, healthier and more vibrant lake. All of this accomplished without any new taxes.
The truth matters, and the truth will prevail. Restoring and enhancing Utah Lake is an objective worthy of monumental effort, collaboration, and discussion. Let’s work together to ensure Utah Lake is a resource that can be used and enjoyed by everyone for generations to come.
Jon Benson is president and chief operating officer of Lake Restoration Solutions.