Great Salt Lake – up 4 feet

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Great Salt Lake – up 4 feet

Date: 05/02/2023     State: UT     Issue: Watersheds     Partners: Audubon Society, Friends of Great Salt Lake, Great Salt Lake Institute, Save our Great Salt Lake Airport Origin : Ogden, UT    


Promote the collaborative work between scientists, Utah state leaders, photographers, and conservationists working to address the Great Salt Lake crisis.

The Great Salt Lake has shrunk by two-thirds, reaching another historic low water level in November 2022. However, melting snowpack in the Great Salt Lake basin has provided great relief to the lake. In addition, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has donated 20,000 acre-feet of water. The Great Salt Lake water level has risen by more than four feet since November, though we will need winters of this magnitude every year to sustain the waters in the Lake.

As the largest saltwater lake in the Western hemisphere, the Great Salt Lake covered 3,300 square miles in the late 1980s, but now covers only 1,000 square miles. This decrease poses massive threats to the 2 million people living in the surrounding region, which is the most densely populated area in Utah. The lake contains toxic materials and as it dries, dust, metals and chemicals like arsenic will become windblown, poisoning the air. The dwindling water level threatens the lake's 1.3 billion dollar economy in recreation, brine shrimp, and mineral extraction, including magnesium, of which 75% of the global supply comes from the Great Salt Lake. The water level is expected to continue to drop until fall when agricultural demand for water lessens.

This climate change induced disaster poses immediate threats to the communities that surround the Great Salt Lake, as well as the species that are supported by and reside in the lake. The algae, flies, and brine shrimp will die off, threatening the 10 million migratory birds that annually stop and feed at the lake.

Our partners are working to spread awareness about this pressing issue in hopes of a sustainable solution. The Jordan, Weber and Bear Rivers provide water for crops and Wasatch Front communities before feeding into the Great Salt Lake. Increasing the water level in the Great Salt Lake means diverting less water to farmers and residents, during this period of excessive heat when more water is necessary for crops and lawns. The solution to the Great Salt Lake crisis is complex, but it is clear, action is needed now.

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