One of the things that I felt has been overlooked is the overall health of he riparian, marshland, and upland habitat included in Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. The effects of damming the river could have largescale effects on the water levels of the refuge as well as its future in general. The Wetland Hydrology section of this document (https://qcnr.usu.edu/pdfs/graduate_degrees/bioregional_planning/BRMBR_Final_Report_b.pdf) gives a good overview of how the terrestrial and aquatic world come together, providing habitat for the more than 200 species that visit the refuge annually on their migration route. Without water to give life to the earth, the aquatic habitat will not thrive, and so many species will suffer.
Ideally, I would like to see emphasis being put on alternatives to daming the river, https://naturalresources.utah.gov/dnr-newsfeed/bear-river-development-can-likely-be-delayed-further, maybe there is another solution at this time.
Apart from lacking data that indicates a need for the Bear River Development, The potential negative impacts far outweigh the potential gains. There are many alternative options with backed data that avoid the potential environmental and economic impacts of this development. It would be irresponsible to move forward with the Bear River Development without fully investigating alternatives that cost the tax payer less, reduce environmental impacts, and successfully provide the water supply needed for the growing population in Utah. A recent study conducted by Wayne Wurstbaugh estimates the Great Salt Lake lost 11 feet of water due to the current water deferment developments in Utah (Click here to see this study). The Bear river development would further contribute to the decline of the Great Salt Lake. The Utah Rivers Council states the Bear River Development would decrease the lake depth by at least 2 – 4 feet and possibly more (http://utahrivers.org/2017/09/14/alternatives-paper/). The continued decline of the Great Salt Lake will result in numerous economic and environmental impacts. Some of the environmental impacts include: An overall decrease of annual precipitation due to a decreased frequency of lake effect storms; Increased particulate air pollution due to exposed lake bed; and critical ecosystem loss for migratory birds, fish, and brine shrimp. (Click here for an in depth explanation of the risks involved with the decline of the Great Salt Lake). It is in the interest of all citizens of Utah to avoid further water deferment, especially without a detailed and thorough investigation that can justify the need for the Bear River Development. The Utah Rivers Council has proposed 8 alternatives that could help meet the water needs of Utah with out developing the Bear River. Without a convincing rebut of these alternatives, there is no justification for the Bear River Development. It is our moral obligation to protect the beautiful awe inspiring ecosystems that contribute to the unique life-giving hydrological sub-cycle along the Wasatch Front.
Before going and spending almost 2 billion dollars on a dam to increase water supply a look at how we use our current water is something much more affordable and could prove to be much more cost effective in relation to the amount of water “found”. According to the Utah Rivers Council, a large portion of water is wasted through over watering and mistimed watering of landscaped property (http://utahrivers.org/). The first step in order to ensure water for the future would be to enact further conservation efforts through education, enforcement of current policies, and change how we look at landscaping and water use all together. Even with a growing population, a look at HOW we use the current supply, WHY we use it for what we do (Nobody needs their entire yard to be grass and lush plants in a desert), and WHAT can change in order to decrease the usage all together making more water readily available for the future when the need for water continues to grow. This could also extend to the farming sector in terms of more sustainable watering practices.