Water Documenters: Read meeting notes from the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council

In the March 13 meeting, the council appointed a new chair and discussed the need to collaborate with other states on management of the Bear River.

Water Documenters Logo

Purpose of the council

Agenda for March meeting

Members of the council: Who they represent (All appointed by UT Gov.)

  • Don Leonard: Former Chair & Aquaculture (Present)

  • Tim Hawkes: Current Chair & GSL Brine Shrimp Cooperative (Present)

  • Joe Havasi: Extractive Industry (Present)

  • Dina Blaes: Salt Lake County (Present)

  • Randy Elliott: Davis County (Not Present)

  • Gage Froerer: Weber County (Not Present)

  • David Livermore: Vice-Chair & Conservation (Present)

  • Leland Myers: Publicly Owned Treatment Works (Present)

  • Jeff Richards: Migratory Bird Protection Areas (Present)

  • Lee Perry: Box Elder County (Present)

  • Ryan Doherty: Tooele County (Present)

  • Thomas Ward: Municipal Government (Sandy City) (Not Present)

Persons scheduled to speak

  • Casey Snider, Utah House of Representatives (Present)

  • Tim Davis, Deputy Great Salt Lake Commissioner (Online)

  • Nathan Daugs, Cache Water District (Present)

  • Steve Jones, Hansen, Allen & Luce, Inc. (Present)

The scene

  • A large meeting room with large windows. There are two 360 degree cameras on a plastic table in the middle that are recording the entire meeting, while also streaming the meeting to persons attending virtually.


  • 10:03: Meeting started with Don Leonard calling the meeting to order and stated that the meeting had a quorum present.

  • 10:04: All persons present in the room stated their name and organization.

  • 10:07: Leonard went over the status of each council member’s term. Tim Hawkes was confirmed by the Utah Senate, and will take over as chair with Leonard taking the place of his alternate.

  • 10:10: David Livermore proposed a motion to “ratify the action of Governor Cox to appoint Tim Hawkes as the next chair of the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council.” The motion was seconded by Leland Myers and unanimously approved by the Council.

  • 10:11: Livermore gave a short speech thanking Don Leonard for his service to the Great Salt Lake and the GSLAC, and proposed a resolution to honor him.

  • 10:15: Don Leonard symbolically handed over the gavel to Tim Hawkes. Tim Hawkes thanked Don Leonard for his service and took over the meeting as the new chair.

(Marco Lozzi | University of Utah) Tim Hawkes, new chair of the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council, thanks Don Leonard for his service while sitting next to Leonard’s now empty chair during the GSL Advisory Council meeting in the Eccles Wildlife Center on Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2024.

  • 10:17: Hawkes handed over the floor to Representative Casey Snider to talk about how the Great Salt Lake has been covered in the previous legislative session. Snider discussed the allocation of funding that was distributed relating to aiding the Great Salt Lake, including ten million dollars to the Great Salt Lake Commissioner’s Office. Snider talked about HB 453, which covered regulation of mineral extraction in the GSL.

  • 10:24: The floor is opened for questions. R. Jefre Hicks, Secretary/Treasurer of the Utah Airboat Association, asked about SB 211, and how it aligns with the Commissioner Office’s plans for the GSL. Snider said that he does not foresee any conflict between the two.

  • 10:32: Hawkes handed the floor to Tim Davis, deputy commissioner of the GSL. Davis gave an update on what the commissioner’s office is doing to protect the GSL. Davis said the four main goals of the Commissioner’s office right now are bringing people together, making decisions based upon the best available science, getting water to the [Great Salt] Lake, and protecting water/air quality. Davis talked about some of the organizations/divisions that they are working with, and studies that they are funding.

  • 10:37: Hawkes thanked Davis for his time and listed some of Davis’ qualifications and past experience. Davis requested that the Commissioner’s office be able to provide updates at all future Great Salt Lake Advisory Council meetings, Hawkes approved. The floor was opened for questions, but none were raised.

  • 10:38: Hawkes handed the floor to Nathan Daugs, manager of the Cache Water District, to give a presentation about the Regional Economic Values of the Bear River. Daugs discussed a study conducted by the Conservation Economics Institute and ECOnorthwest. Daugs stated that the Bear River is the “biggest contributor, flow wise, to the Great Salt Lake.” Daugs discussed a tri-state collaboration between Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming in order to more efficiently use the river’s water.

  • 10:53: Hawkes thanked Daugs for his presentation and opened the floor to questions. David Livermore asked if there is “any corresponding interest amongst Idaho legislators to address depletion issues and similar things that could [not only] help the lake, but agriculture even in Idaho”. Daugs responded, saying “probably not”, as they are “not concerned with the Great Salt Lake.” Leland Myers asked how the Bear River’s contribution to the Great Salt Lake mineral companies was calculated, Daugs said it was based on the percentage of water the lake received from the Bear River in a study from 2012.

  • 10:58: Hawkes handed the floor to Steven Jones to talk about the effects of Low Impact Development (LID) on the Great Salt Lake. Hansen, Allen & Luce (HAL) and LimnoTech were selected by the state to create a report on the impact of LID on the Great Salt Lake, detailed in HB 429. Jones talked about the effect of LID in creating more water runoff for the GSL. Jones stated that non-low impact developments send more water into the Great Salt Lake faster, but reduces the amount of groundwater and requires water treatment as the water quality would be lower. Groundwater only accounted for 3% of water going into the Great Salt Lake.

  • 11:09: Hawkes opened the floor to questions. David Livermore asked how groundwater was measured for the study. Jones said they used surface and groundwater modeling and stated that it is “not 100% perfect.” Dina Blaes asked what the most efficient use of LID is, and if it was being studied. Jones stated that the Division of Water Quality are the ones working on that.

  • 11:17: Hawkes opened the floor to public comment. Lynn de Freitas, Executive Director of FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake, announced that FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake recognised Don Leonard as the recipient of the Friend of the Lake award. Lynn Lanier, Utah Department of Health and Human Services, talked about how he thinks public education will be more impactful than policy change.

  • 11:26: Hawkes closed the floor to public comment. Hawkes asked the council if they had any suggestions for the next meeting. None were given. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 10th, 2024 from 10:00am to 11:30 a.m. at the Eccles Wildlife Center.

  • 11:28: The meeting is adjourned.


  • Don Leonard stepped down as Chair of the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council, with Tim Hawkes taking his place.

  • The Bear River is the largest contributor of water to the Great Salt Lake, and collaboration with Wyoming and Idaho is required to make efficient use of its water.

  • Runoff surface water and groundwater is a very small percentage of the Great Salt Lake’s water intake.

Follow-Up Questions

With Tim Hawkes taking over as the new Chair of the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council, will the council be run differently? Will old commitments and promises still be upheld?

Water Documenters is a collaboration between The Salt Lake Tribune and City Bureau and funded through grants from the Great Salt Lake Collaborative and the Rita Allen Foundation. College student journalists from all over Utah are hired to attend and take notes at public water meetings in Utah. These notes are then published for anyone to read or use. The project is aimed at providing better public access to meetings where major decisions are made about a limited Utah resource. For more meeting notes, click here. For more information, click here.