The level of the Great Salt Lake in northern Utah rose significantly during a period of above-normal precipitation in the early to mid 1980s. Two successive rises of the lake (approximately 5 feet each) in 1983 and 1984 were the two largest rises of the lake in historical record. These increases caused flooding of several facilities near the lake and threatened others. As a result, the State of Utah evaluated several options for controlling the lake level and selected an alternative whereby water would be pumped from the lake to large evaporation basins that would be constructed in the desert west of the lake.
EarthFax served as a member of the team that was tasked with preparing sections of two Environmental Impact Statements associated with the lake level control project. One EIS evaluated the impacts of pumping excess water from the lake to the West Desert, while the other EIS examined the impacts of operating a salt-production facility using water that had been pumped to the desert. For each project, we conducted detailed field investigations and reviewed published literature to document baseline soil, geologic, and groundwater resources. We also conducted testing and analyses and constructed numerical models to further predict the potential groundwater impacts. A critical issue that we considered in the first EIS included the impacts of impounded water in the desert on the adjacent Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway, a popular area for establishing land speed records. In the second EIS, EarthFax was careful to identify the impacts of solar pond operation on a nearby hazardous-waste landfill. In each case, we prepared document sections and supported public meetings. We incorporated appropriate comments into the reports and published the final documents.