Tags: great salt lake | historic | low

Great Salt Lake at Historic Low Water Levels for 2 Years Now

Image: Great Salt Lake at Historic Low Water Levels for 2 Years Now
(Twitter @KSLcom)

By    |   Wednesday, 30 Dec 2015 09:34 AM

The Great Salt Lake's north arm has reached a historic low for the second straight year, forcing state officials to begin a management plan to ensure the lake's continued health.

The northern arm's level was measured at 4,191 feet above sea level, a foot lower than last year's recorded low, said KSL-TV. State lawmakers earlier this year agreed to pay for dredging the Great Salt Lake Marina because of the previous drop.

Officials believe the south arm of the lake could also hit a new low, depending on this year's snowpack. The south arm is currently one foot above the previous 52-year-old record.

"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, with the U.S. Geological Survey. "The condition of the current mountain snowpack is definitely a positive for the lake and hopefully the storms will keep coming."

Utah officials will attempt to prevent travel across the exposed lakebed while putting new dredging operations on the fast track, Jason Curry of the state's division of forestry, fire and state lands, told the Salt Lake Tribune. Officials will no longer accept new mineral leasing around the lake as well.

"A healthy lake means thriving industry, which benefits the state's economy," said Laura Ault, of the division's sovereign lands program. "A healthy lake also provides more abundant water resources upstream, flourishing wildlife, recreational opportunities, improved ecosystems and better air quality."

A 391-page Great Salt Lake Comprehensive Management Plan was adopted in 2013 to preserve the lake uses as Utah's drought continued. Economic activity that depends on the Great Salt Lake was estimated at $1.3 billion. It is also a nesting ground of "hemispheric importance" to millions of migratory waterfowl.

"The lake is unique in that it is so big, yet so shallow, and the bed is really flat. If you drop a foot of elevation, that exposes a lot of lake bed," said Angeroth. "One thing you have issues with is dust. As the lake gets smaller, it provides less surface area for evaporation, which helps feed into lake effect that we enjoy in the mountains for skiing and water sources."


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The Great Salt Lake's north arm has reached a historic low for the second straight year, forcing state officials to begin a management plan to ensure the lake's continued health.
great salt lake, historic, low
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2015-34-30
Wednesday, 30 Dec 2015 09:34 AM
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