THE GREAT SALT LAKE
The Great Salt Lake is at a historical low. It is in danger of drying up completely in the next decade or less! This area is valuable to our economy, wildlife, and public health. We need your help protecting it!
What's Going On?
The Great Salt Lake elevation dropped to the lowest level on record in 2022 (See graph below). Human and natural consumptive water use explains over 2/3 of low lake levels. Agriculture depletes the most water, followed by municipal/ industrial uses. Mineral extraction drove the increase in depletion. Other factors contributing to its depletioon include increased evaporation from climate warming, natural variability in precipitation, and runoff efficiency. Water inflow is decreasing as well as water is depleted by natural and human systems before it can reach the lake.
Why Should We Care?
In the future increased temperature and evaporation will become a larger problem for the Great Salt Lake. This threatens local public health, critical habitat, and economic activity.
The Great Salt Lake Lake has absorbed industrial waste, pesticides, and heavy metals for decades. These dried particles as exposed will become a toxic dust that will blow across the Wasatch Front. This is a public health threat to Utah as a whole
The Great Salt Lake supports a rich biological system. Millions of migratory birds visit this area for breeding, staging, and feeding. The lake is a great source of food as it contains a large population of brine shrimp. Antelope Island is also home to 550 - 700 bison which are managed by the Utah Division of State Parks.
The Great Salt Lake is a major source of income for Utah's economy. If it were to dry up, the potential cost would be $25 - $32 billion. Costs would include loss of lake recreation income, landscape mitigation costs, loss of brine shrimp industry output, and health costs.
What are the Solutions?
The Great Salt Lake Strike Team (
This Strike team is composed of researchers from Utah's top universities and state agencies. Their purpose is to "?
Serve as primary point of contact to tap into the expertise of Utah’ research universities
Provide urgent research support and synthesis that will enhance and strengthen Utah’s strategies to improve watershed management and increase water levels in Great Salt Lake "
They offer six recommendations to the government:
Leverage the wet years
Set a lake elevation range goal
Invest in conservation
Invest in water monitoring and modeling
Develop a holistic water management plan
Request an in-depth analysis of policy options
Policy options can be split into three categories:
Includes commiting conserved water to the GSL, optimizing use of agricultural water, and utilizing water banking and leasing, adopting an elevation range goal, and limiting municipal/industrial water use growth
Includes importing water and increasing winter precipitation with cloud seeding
Includes raising and lowering the causeway berm, and mitigating dust transmission hotspot
What Can I do to Help?
Here are a few ways you can help preserve the Great Salt Lake:
Conserve water in your daily life
Contact legislators to show support (support bills that protect GSL)
Volunteer at Antelope Island State Park and GSL State Park
Great Salt Lake Audubon
Adopt a park
Donate to organizations that support the Great Salt Lake