This module was published in late 2010, when Great Salt Lake’s water elevation was about 4,194 feet above sea level. Since then, the region has experienced years of drought and increasing water diversions upstream of the lake. These factors caused the lake to reach a new low in the fall of 2021: 4,190.2 feet. Experts predict 2022 will bring yet another record low.
As water levels drop, salinity increases, and miles of lakebed are exposed. If the lake loses too much water, this globally important ecosystem will collapse. And, as we’ve seen from other dry lakes around the world, exposed lakebeds release dust that travels by wind for many miles. The dust would accelerate snow melt and dramatically degrade air quality for most of the state’s residents. Impacts to nearby industries, animals, and people would be catastrophic.
To learn more, visit the related resources linked below.
Great Salt Lake Collaborative
In response to the crisis, this local group of news, education, and media organizations has come together to publish free, solutions-based content.
See current and past lake elevations on the USGS Water Data website.
Read news updates from the Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College.
See images of the lake at 2021 record low levels on the NASA Earth Observatory website.
RadioWest episode, August 2021: The State and Fate of the Great Salt Lake (audio, 49:42).
News article, April 2022: Why it matters that Great Salt Lake will likely drop to a historic low this year
New York Times article, June 2022: As the Great Salt Lake Dries Up, Utah Faces an 'Environmental Nuclear Bomb'.