SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is preparing to take the next step to accelerate the Utah Lake Restoration Project.

As the USACE is the lead permitting agency regarding the project, they are required to take a “hard, objective look at public interest and environmental factors.” To continue advancing the project, the USACE is planning to engage an independent third-party contractor to support the review of the project.

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the USACE recognizes that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be prepared to advise the decision-making process. The third-party contractor will step in and offer “unbiased and acceptable information which can be used as the basis for making a permit decision” in preparation of the EIS.

The USACE is additionally requiring Lake Restoration Solutions to provide a list of three qualified third-party contractors along with their statements of qualification.

“This is the next natural step in the environmental review process,” said Jon Benson, president of Lake Restoration Solutions, which submitted the project application in December 2021 to restore and enhance Utah Lake for wildlife, recreation, and communities. “It’s a positive step that the Army Corps has officially determined the project will require an EIS, which will allow a thorough and public examination of the scientific and environmental merits of the restoration project, including public input, and responses to questions posed.”

He continued, adding, “By design, the environmental review process is a methodical and independent evaluation. Adding a third-party contractor whose work will be directed by the Army Corps provides confidence to all stakeholders that this review process will be unbiased. We welcome input to ensure future generations can enjoy Utah Lake as a clean and healthy resource. Humans caused the lake’s problems, and now is the time to fix it for the benefit of all.”

In the execution of the Utah Lake Project, NEPA has asked federal agencies to evaluate the environmental effects of the planned actions prior to making decisions through an EIS. These evaluations will include an analysis of relevant data and research as well as modeling environmental elements like water, soil, and wildlife.