August 9, 2022

The Great Salt Lake Drops to A Record Low

3 min read
The Great Salt Lake drops to a record low

As a megadrought brought on by climate change tightens its hold on the West, the Great Salt Lake in Utah has fallen to its lowest level on record twice in less than a year.

According to statistics from the US Geological Survey, the lake’s surface water height decreased to 4,190 feet on Sunday, breaking the previous record set in 2021 and being the lowest it has ever been since it was initially recorded in the mid-1800s. The lake’s lowest point prior to last year was 4,191.4 feet in October 1963.
In light of the Great Salt Lake’s third consecutive year of decline, Utah officials are now urging “immediate action” to preserve it.

The Great Salt Lake drops to a record low

The Great Salt Lake’s levels “may rise and fall in any given year,” O’Leary told CNN. “When inflows are greater than evaporation and when evaporation is greater than inflows, lake levels rise. Lake levels dropped until mid-October of the previous year, when the previous record low was broken, before leveling out.”

Water officials claim they have seen water evaporation and depletion to be greater than the volume of water entering the lake. The Great Salt Lake coordinator for the Utah Department of Natural Resources, Laura Vernon, stated that in order to make up for the water that the lake regularly loses, they would prefer to see it grow by at least 2.5 feet a year.
However, Vernon told CNN that “this year, the lake just increased over one foot this past year.”
Until the quantity of water entering the lake matches, if not exceeds, the amount of water being lost, which typically happens during the fall or early winter, O’Leary said they expect lake levels “will continue to deteriorate.”The Great Salt Lake drops to a record low
According to Vernon, the Great Salt Lake’s decline has “many possible repercussions,” mainly on the economy. The Great Salt Lake generates $1.3 billion annually to the economy, including through the mining, harvesting, and recreation industries, according to a state evaluation. The annual economic cost of the lake’s continued drying out would be in the range of $1.7 billion to $2.2 billion.

After being weakened under Trump, the Endangered Species Act was restored by a federal judge.
Vernon added that should the lake dry up, at least 6,500 people in Utah could lose their jobs, as the lake supports around 7,7000 jobs in the region.

The effects “may be very substantial from an economic perspective,” Vernon added. We’ve also observed that as lakes around the world dry up and their levels drop, more individuals develop respiratory illnesses because they are breathing in more airborne particulate matter.
The Great Salt Lake is an example of a terminal lake, where water can enter but not leave the basin. Strong winds can also blow over a drying lake bed, kicking up small particles that can be inhaled and harm the lungs or worsen other respiratory conditions. Health issues like asthma, heart disease, and chronic bronchitis have been related to these contaminants.

The Great Salt Lake drops to a record low
Vernon said that even though the Great Salt Lake isn’t a water reservoir like the rapidly diminishing Lake Mead and Lake Powell, it is still an important natural resource and a good reason for people to conserve more water, especially given how much Utah’s population has increased over the past ten years.

She stated that “we need to use water more aggressively and manage water in the state.” We should behave appropriately because we reside in one of the driest states in the country.
Numerous lakes in the West will continue to lose more water to evaporation as a result of the hotter, drier, and windier climate.

According to Vernon, many state authorities are now focused on finding ways to adapt to or lessen the situation as a result of the reality playing out in the Great Salt Lake.
We are aware of the low lake levels, and we anticipate that the lake will continue to drop over the summer. “Modifications won’t occur overnight, but we’re hoping we can make some changes that will bring more water to the lake,” the author says.

 

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