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Great Salt Lake an economic powerhouse for the state

Report says lake adds more than $1.3 billion annually to. the Beehive State’s economy.

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President of the Utah Artemia Association, he noted that the first-of-its-kind study showed how the lake's economic benefits are woven together with its ecological health.

At a glance

Online » More on the lake’s ecology, economy

To see the reports in detail, go to the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council’s Web page: www.gslcouncil.utah.gov and check the “activities” link.

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The $1.3 billion in total economic output was based on an estimated $1.1 billion from the industrial sector, largely minerals; nearly $136 million from recreation; and nearly $57 million from brine shrimp aquaculture.

In addition, about $375 million in paychecks and 7,706 jobs can be traced to the lake, he said.

Leonard also noted several related benefits from the lake. One is the "passive use" value of $100 million, based on the lake's value for bird habitat and other geologic and ecological characteristics. Passive use, he said, is not tied to the direct economic uses of the lake, but instead it reflects "the value people place on simply preserving the resource."

Another benefit is the use of the lake for sewer plant discharges which amount to an estimated $10 million to $59 million annually in avoided treatment costs. If the wastewater had to be treated to freshwater standards, costs would be significantly higher, Leonard said.

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He noted that the US Magnesium plant on the lake's southwestern edge is the biggest North American producer of the metal strengthening metal and alloy, and it is responsible for 14 percent of worldwide production.

Leonard also pointed out that 99 percent of the brine shrimp and eggs harvested on the lake are shipped oversees, although the lake produces just 35 to 45 percent of the supply worldwide.

Myers said the council's goal for this year is to develop a priority list for future research. But he added that the panel needs more funding and more authority to fully carry out its mandate.

"Without money and without power," he said, "you are [left] hoping people will listen to you."

The Nature Conservancy provided funding for the studies through a $100,000 grant.

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