Church donates water to the state of Utah to benefit Great Salt Lake

The shoreline of the Great Salt Lake is seen in this March 2022 photo. (Photo Credit: USU/Taylor Emerson)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is donating over 5,700 water shares in the North Point Consolidated Irrigation Company to the State of Utah. The donated water shares will go directly into the Great Salt Lake.

Utah Division of Water Quality announced the Great Salt Lake is the lowest it has been in 58 years and it is still dropping.

The donation is believed to be the largest-ever permanent donation to benefit the Great Salt Lake. It will ensure water will continue to flow to the lake and preserve critical shoreline and wetland habitat in Farmington Bay.

The donation is equivalent to over 20,000-acre feet with up to 50 cubic feet per second of water. For comparison, Hyrum reservoir is 480-acre feet. The donation ensures water from these shares can continue to flow to the lake in perpetuity.

Gov. Spencer Cox expressed his appreciation for the donation.

“We’re grateful to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for this generous donation,” Cox said. “This water donation will make a real difference to the lake and the future of our state. The Great Salt Lake is a critical asset environmentally, ecologically and economically, and we all need to work together to protect and preserve it.”

The transaction will also pave the way for future partnerships and will include new measurement infrastructure to better track water deliveries to the lake.

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church, said they want to do their part to help one of the state’s more valuable resources.

“The Great Salt Lake and the ecosystem that depends on it are so important. The Church wants to be part of the solution because we all have a responsibility to care for and be good stewards of the natural resources that God has given to us,” he said. “We invite others to join with us to help.”

The Utah Department of Natural Resources will manage the donation, working in collaboration with the Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Trust.

Joel Ferry, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, said the donation is invaluable because it’s a permanent, dedicated source of water that will benefit the lake year after year.

“I appreciate the collaborative effort among the Church, DNR and conservation groups,” he said. “We look forward to continuing to work together to safeguard the lake.”

Marcelle Shoop, Executive Director of the Great Salt Lake Watershed Enhancement Trust, said the donation will go a long way to helping the state’s largest waterbody.

“This generous donation is an exceptional contribution to ensuring water flows to preserve the lake and its special habitats, while also benefiting Utah communities,” she said.

“We are extremely appreciative of this commitment being made by the Church, the efforts of DNR and the collaborative approach to addressing the water needs of the lake.”

The Great Salt Lake is not only a big tourist destination but is also the largest saline lake in the Western Hemisphere and the eighth largest in the world. The lake has a rich web of relationships among people, land, water, food and survival.

Amelia Gotbetter stands at the Great Salt Lake Tuesday, June 15, 2021, near Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The lake contributes an estimated $1.9 billion to Utah’s economy, provides over 7,700 jobs, supports 80% of Utah’s valuable wetlands, and provides irreplaceable breeding and stopover habitats for millions of birds to rest and refuel during migration each year. Lake effect snow also contributes 5-10% to Utah’s snowpack.

The Utah Department of Natural Resources is one of the state’s largest agencies and helps ensure the quality of life of Utah residents by managing and protecting the state’s natural resources. The department has eight divisions: State Parks; Outdoor Recreation; Oil, Gas and Mining; Forestry, Fire and State Lands; Water Resources; Water Rights; Wildlife Resources and the Utah Geological Survey. The Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office and the Office of Energy Development were also aligned with DNR in 2021 to provide closer coordination.


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  • Kramer March 16, 2023 at 8:37 am Reply

    …..wonder what the tax write off amount is on that size of a donation

    • JP March 16, 2023 at 2:17 pm Reply

      Since the church is a non-profit organization it does not pay taxes. So what tax write-off?

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