Great Salt Lake Hits Record Low Water Level

Posted: Dec 30 2015, 9:24am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Great Salt Lake Hits Record Low Water Level: Study
Water is disappearing around Great Salt Lake causeway breach. Credit: USGS

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A new survey reveals that the north arm of Utah's Great Salt Lake reached a new lowest record level of 4,191.6 feet last month.

Utah’s Great Salt Lake is getting smaller as it continues to lose its water quickly.

According to a recent survey, the north arm of the Great Salt Lake hit a new lowest level of 4,191.6 feet last month, one foot lower than the previous record. The previous historic low was 4,191.35 feet which was set in 1963.

The Great Salt Lake is one of the largest salt water lakes in the world. Though, it is also known as America’s Dead Sea, it is a home to millions of native and migratory birds, shrimps and waterfowls.

The lower levels of water may cause long-term changes in and around the lake’s ecosystem and may affect wildlife habitats, recreation, air quality and biodiversity of the region.

"The health of the Great Salt Lake is important to the quality of life enjoyed in Utah. A healthy lake means thriving industry, which benefits the state's economy," said Laura Ault, program manager Utah’s Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (FFSL).

"A healthy lake also results in more abundant water resources upstream, flourishing wildlife, recreational opportunities, improved ecosystems and better air quality. We're concerned about low lake levels because it can negatively impact the Wasatch Front's overall health."

The Great Salt Lake has experienced many dramatic fluctuations in water level over the years. In 2011, an unusually large snowpack caused water levels to rise around 5 feet. Otherwise, water remained low most of the years.

North and south arms of the Great Salt Lake are split by a causeway and both are hovering around historic lows. Water levels are expected to drop even further if the lake receives below-average snow and rainfall in the future as well.

“There is a chance the south arm of the Great Salt Lake could reach a historic low in 2016, but it depends on the amount of precipitation we get through the winter and spring months,” said Cory Angeroth, a scientist from U.S. Geological Survey.

“The condition of current mountain snowpack is definitely a positive for the lake and hopefully the storms will keep coming.”

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