Great Salt Lake Basin Integrated Plan

During the 2022 Utah legislative session, HB 429 was passed.  This bill directed the Division of Water Resources to develop and implement the Great Salt Lake Watershed Integrated Water Assessment.

In addition to this, the division was also awarded a WaterSMART grant in December 2022 to develop a Great Salt Lake Basin Study. With similar objectives aimed at better understanding the complex water supply and demand in the Great Salt Lake Basin, these two projects have merged to become the Great Salt Lake Basin Integrated Plan.

To help facilitate and carry out these objectives, Jacobs, The Langdon Group, Clyde Snow and Hansen, Allen & Luce have been hired to assist with the development of the workplan for this project.

Great Salt Lake Basin Map from Salt Lake County
Great Salt Lake Basin Map –

These combined projects will help to ensure a resilient water supply for Great Salt Lake and its watershed by:

  • Assessing current surface and groundwater supply in the Great Salt Lake Basin
  • Forecasting future water demands
  • Investigating potential benefits of forest management and watershed restoration
  • Coordinating efforts to quantify and incorporate demand into the water supply and demand model
  • Identifying and evaluating best management practices to provide a reliable water supply
  • Analyzing the trade-offs in relation to impacts on water users throughout the basin and avoiding deterioration of agriculture, industry and ecosystems
  • Recommending actionable strategies to the holistic management of water resources


The objective of the Great Salt Lake Basin Integrated Plan is to ensure a resilient water supply in the Great Salt Lake Basin. Within a three-year timeframe, the Division of Water Resources will combine and enhance existing water resource management tools from across the basin to complete a state-of-the-art water supply and demand study. The integrated plan will collaboratively explore options to address water supply imbalances, increase supply reliability and avoid degradation of the vital Great Salt Lake ecosystem. In addition, it will include a strategy trade-off analysis within each river basin to assess the costs and benefits of meeting different water resource related goals.


The development of a collective assessment and planning tool encompassing the entire Great Salt Lake Basin is a massive undertaking that has never been completed before. Thus, the project will be completed in two phases. Phase one will develop a workplan to lay out the approach for completing the Great Salt Lake Basin Integrated Plan. This workplan will be completed by November 2023. Phase two will then initiate the longer process of creating the actionable Integrated Plan, which will conclude in late 2026.

Phase One

The workplan for the Great Salt Lake Basin Integrated Plan will synthesize existing information, literature and data across the watershed related to water quantity and quality, water use, water demand, surface and groundwater diversions, depletions and return flows. In addition to creating a “situational assessment” of current conditions, the workplan will also provide guidance on the communication and collaboration that will be required to successfully involve stakeholders in the watershed.

Objectives of the Workplan:

  1. Lay out the approach for completing the integrated plan
  2. Identify parallel efforts to eliminate redundancies and capitalize on opportunities
  3. Engage stakeholders and build consensus
  4. Catalog previous projects
  5. Define remaining questions
  6. Identify and prioritize necessary studies, schedules and costs

Phase Two

After the workplan is complete, development of the Great Salt Lake Basin Integrated Plan can begin. We will answer complex questions, such as:

  • What is the present Great Salt Lake Basin water supply?
  • How much water does Great Salt Lake need to thrive?
  • What are groundwater contributions within the basin?
  • How much water will people need in the future?
  • How much will our environment need?

The plan will then analyze a range of adaptation and mitigation strategies that could ensure a reliable water supply in varied conditions. Ultimately, water users and policymakers will gain a comprehensive foundation to understand their roles in the watershed and make decisions.

Basin Study

The United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) plays a critical role in helping stakeholders address and plan for water supply and imbalances. Comprehensive basin studies are intended to bring together competing interests within river basins to identify collaborative solutions to water management challenges. In December 2022, the Division of Water Resources was awarded $3.1 million in funding to assist with the development of a Basin Study through technical assistance and tool development. Due to the collaborative nature of the work promoted by USBR, the division is able to combine the Basin Study and the Integrated Water Assessment into one large-scale, state-of-the-art analysis of water resources in the Great Salt Lake Basin.


Steering Committee

Brian Steed, Great Salt Lake Commissioner

Trevor Nielson, Bear River Canal Company

Connely Baldwin, Rocky Mountain Power

Jon Parry, Weber Basin Conservancy District

Laura Briefer, Salt Lake City Public Utilities

Jack Ray, Utah Waterfowl Association

Derek Bruton, Central Utah Water Conservancy District

Scott Sandall, Utah Legislature

Nathan Daugs, Cache Water District

Marcelle Shoop, National Audubon Society

Lynn de Freitas, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake

Søren Simonsen, Jordan River Commission

Dave Decker, Provo City

Casey Snider, Utah Legislature

Wade Garrett, Utah Farm Bureau

Brent Tanner, Utah Cattlemen's Association

Joe Havasi, Compass Minerals

David Tarboton, Utah State University

Tim Hawkes, Great Salt Lake Artemia

Jeff Young, Ensign Ranch

Dustin Jansen, Utah Division of Indian Affairs

Jacob Young, Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District

Jess Kirby, Summit County

Water Suppliers

Bear River Canal Company

Ogden River Water Users' Association

Bear River Water Conservancy District

Provo River Water Users Association

Central Utah Water Conservancy District

Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities

Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District

Weber Basin Water Conservancy District

Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake & Sandy

Environmental Non-Profits

National Audubon Society

The Nature Conservancy

FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake

Academic and Advising

Great Salt Lake Advisory Council

Utah State University

University of Utah

State Agencies

Idaho Department of Water Resources

Utah Division of Water Quality

Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands

Utah Geological Survey

Utah Division of Water Resources

Wyoming Office of State Engineer

Utah Division of Water Rights

Federal Agencies

US Bureau of Reclamation

US Geological Survey

US Fish and Wildlife Service

Would you like to learn more about the Basin Integrated Plan? Do you have research or information you would like to contribute?