Bountiful architect Don David Johnson wants to use a series of dikes to build a huge freshwater lake out of the eastern half of the Great Salt Lake.
Lake Wasatch would be five times bigger than Utah Lake and six times the size of Bear Lake, with a 197-mile-long shore line and unlimited potential for real estate and recreational development.Johnson who has experience in precast, reinforced concrete construction says the lake could be formed if three dikes, totaling 16 miles of concrete, are built between Promontory Peninsula at the north edge of the Great Salt Lake and Fremont Island (a distance of three miles), between Fremont Island and Antelope Island (six miles), and from Antelope Island to I-80 on the south shore (seven miles).
"Not only would the creation of Lake Wasatch provide a stabilized lake level, it would provide nearly 4 million cubic acre feet of freshwater storage and a brand new lifestyle for Utahns in the Salt Lake Valley," he said.
The proposed lake, its clear waters shining down to an average depth of 10 feet much like lakes in Wisconsin or Minnesota would become a tremendous tourist attraction and provide residents along the lake shore with unlimited water recreation.
Just imagine what it would mean to have such a lake within a half hour of three-fourths of the state's population, Johnson said.
HB329, passed by the 1988 Legislature, provided $100,000 to test the principles involved in the diking method, called the Wasatch Precast Wall Pile System. The money must be matched on a 50-50 basis by individuals, lakeside landowners, businesses, industry, institutions and local governments if the money is to be made available July 1, Johnson said.
The Utah State University Foundation has accepted the job of holding the $100,000 in matching money and Design Development has agreed to raise the matching funds, make a conceptual design of the project and estimate the costs of building the dikes.
Johnson has enlisted the help of some of Utah's top engineers and designers, soil scientists, hydrologists and concrete scientists, including Vance T. Christensen, J. Derle Thorpe, Loren Runar Anderson and Fred W. Keifer Jr.
"There are problems to overcome, but they can be solved. Lake Wasatch can become a reality. Prestressed and precast concrete piles can be built to withstand any effects of the salt lake; the eastern part of the Great Salt Lake can be cleansed of pollutants; and the new lake's level can be maintained constant."
Johnson said the eastern shore of the lake today is a mess shallow, stagnant, debris-strewn shores where little, if anything, can be grown and where ugliness abounds. "These shores can be cleaned and dredged and the dredgings used to build up the level of the shore.
"Someday, these shorelines can be dotted by beautiful homes and luxurious estates, businesses and hotels, motels and resorts. The new freshwater lake will be festooned with bright sailing ships, motor boats, water-skiers and fishermen.
"Sightseers from all over the world will come to Utah to see Lake Wasatch and to enjoy its pleasures and beauties."
The architect said a wide several-lane highway-parkway could be built on the dikes and on the peninsula and islands and this western shoreline could also provide places for homes, businesses, resorts and rec-reation centers.
The cost of building the dikes of specially designed precast concrete pilings would be a third of the cost of building conventional dikes, Johnson said, and is estimated to cost about $80 million.
"The money would come from revenue bonds paid for by property taxes from landowners adjacent to the lake in Box Elder, Weber, Davis and Salt Lake counties who would be included in a special improvement district. The value to these landowners cannot be imagined. The worth of their shoreline holdings would skyrocket."