Utah Lake's potential is greater than most people realize, but much of that potential will lie dormant until the lake's water quality is improved, Utah County Engineer Clyde Naylor says.

Naylor and Utah Lake Study Committee Chairman Lavorn Sparks have told the Utah Lake Planning Advisory Group that water quality must be improved if the lake's potential is to be realized. The study committee was formed in 1986 by the County Commission to study Utah Lake and its resources."The committee has felt all along that Utah Lake has some potential," Naylor said. He said realizing that potential could prove economically important to Utah County.

"A renewed genesis in the lake's development and utilization could . . . be critical to the future of Utah County, its economic stability and overall attractiveness in the competitive tourist industry," a committee report says. "Present developmental efforts are, for the most part, at a standstill."

The report calls Utah Lake water quality "marginal at best," and says those interested in developing the lake's potential must coordinate their efforts to improve water quality.

Naylor said, however, that water quality "is not dangerous like it was a few years ago." He said Geneva Steel and county municipalities have made efforts to clean up water they dump into the lake.

Naylor said the Utah Lake Study Committee has tried to identify groups interested in and issues pertinent to the lake's development. The committee has recommended several items be evaluated and considered for inclusion within a lake master plan.

Sparks said the committee will conclude its studies in June, after which its information will be included in a Utah Lake feasibility study.

According to the committee's phase 1 report, the following should be studied in detail to determine their feasibility: dredging, building a causeway to provide an across-the-lake link with a proposed West Lake Freeway, improving existing boat harbors, reserving land for a bird refuge and continuing development of the Provo Jordan River Parkway.

"Dredging is the most important element of the Phase 1 proposal. This dredging would include the mouths of all the major rivers and the existing boat harbors," the report says. "Dredging the mouths of the rivers and boat harbors will clean up and improve the quality of water in these areas."

Dredging of Provo Bay "would then allow its use for the storage of high-quality water."

The proposed causeway would extend east and west along a northern portion of Utah Lake and include a four-lane highway and bike path. The causeway would reduce the effect of wind on the lake, limiting wave action that churns sediments on the lake bottom.

"Encouragement will be given to the private sector to improve the existing boat harbors on Utah Lake," the report says. No federal funding has been expected to fund improvements, but last week Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, said a revised Central Utah Project spending bill earmarks $2 million to improve fishing and boating access around the lake.

In addition, the committee recommends reserving land for a bird refuge in the Benjamin Slough and Goshen Bay areas. "Our committee still feels an area ought to be saved for a bird refuge, but that it should be done by local government and not the federal government."

Owens said a request of federal funds for the refuge had been dropped in revising the CUP spending bill.

Phase 2 items that should be considered include expansion or relocation of the Provo Airport, diking of Provo and Goshen bays, industrial and residential development and water marketing.