SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The declining water levels of the Great Salt Lake threaten its unique ecosystem, and even jobs and recreation. Protecting the Great Salt Lake is a serious issue that legislators from both sides of the aisle agree on.

“If we don’t protect it, it will create an air quality disaster for all Wasatch front residents,” says Zack Frankel, the Executive Director of the Utah Rivers Council.

If passed, House Bill 410 would create the Great Salt Lake watershed enhancement program. The program would establish a water trust to implement projects to enhance water flow to the lake, conserve and restore upstream habitats, and conduct studies, among other things.

But Zach Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council says the bill falls short of actually protecting the Great Salt Lake.

“The Great Salt Lake needs at least 2 million acre-feet of water each year, and $40 million isn’t going to get us far enough,” he says, “A bill that would go far enough would be to amend House Bill 410 to make permanent dedication of water to go into the Great Salt Lake instead of it allowing to terminate, to expire after a few years.”

Frankel also says that to really protect the Great Salt Lake, rivers flowing into the lake must also be protected. This means changing laws that allow hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water to be diverted out of Utah rivers.

“Without water, there is no lake and if we’re not permanently protecting the water sources going into the lake, it’s going to disappear,” he says.