Document Type


Publication Date

January 1983


Fluctuations of the level of the Great Salt Lake cause large changes in both surface area and shoreline. Developments adjacent to the lake have been damaged by both high and low lake levels; and unless measures are implemented to regulate lake level fluctuations or otherwise to protect these developments, damages will continue. Various possible managment alternatives for mitigating potential damages from lake level fluctuations need to be examined and evaluated. In this study, three possible techniques are examined for reducing damages from fluctuating water levels at the lake, namely: 1. Consumptively using an increased proportion of the inflowing fresh waters on irrigated crop lands during periods of high lake inflow. 2. Protecting important properties and facilities around the lake through the construction of a system of dikes. 3. Removing lake water through pumping into the West Dester for evaporation. The above three alternatives are evaluated only for economic feasibility, with physical, legal, and institutional constraints being neglected. The philosophy behind this approach was that if economic feasibility could be demonstrated, other investigations could follow. With reference to the first alternative, the additional irrigation is assumed to occur within the Bear River Basin. The Bear River, which contributes approximately 56 percent of the total inflow to the Great Salt Lake, drains the only tributary basin which contains significant areas of irrigable but not yet irrigated lands. A reconnaissance level economic analysis of each of the above management alternatives is presented. Bapital and annual costs are estimated and compared with estimates of the flood control venefits generated. The overall feasibility, the optimum design, and the optimum time of construction are thus determined for each alternative. From the results of the study, it is concluded that irrigation in the Bear River Basin, except perhaps as part of a multiple purpose project, and the West Desert pumping alternatives are not economically feasible. Particular configurations of the dike alternatives are economically attracive if construction is commenced when lake levels rise to elevations exceeding 4202 feet.