Legal scholars urge court to mandate Great Salt Lake fix

By Jennifer Yachnin | 05/06/2024 01:18 PM EDT

“The Great Salt Lake’s precarious future is not beyond legal remedy,” the amicus brief states.

Drought at Great Salt Lake

A sign warning of low water levels is displayed at the Great Salt Lake Marina on June 3, 2021, near Salt Lake City. Rick Bowmer/AP

A Utah state court should intervene to force the Beehive State to ensure more water flows into Great Salt Lake, three dozen legal scholars argued in newly filed court documents.

The amicus brief filed in Utah state court Friday is the latest salvo in a lawsuit filed last fall by Earthjustice, which is representing Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, the American Bird Conservancy, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and the Utah Rivers Council.

The lawsuit says that Utah’s Department of Natural Resources and several other agencies are in violation of “public trust doctrine,” or a government’s responsibility to protect natural resources.


Environmental groups argued that the state officials have failed to ensure more water flows into the nation’s largest saline lake by cutting water supplies for activities like agriculture, mineral extraction projects and municipal uses, creating both economic and environmental harms as the lake’s levels have shrunk.