body of water near mountain during daytime

The Great Salt Lake is the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere, and it is at threat of drying up in the next five years. Desert drought and excessive water use are to blame. Large farms consume millions of gallons of water every year, and Utah’s rainfall isn’t heavy enough to be sustainable. If no action is taken, there could be serious environmental and medical issues that Utah’s population is starting to feel the effect of. While air pollution is already a large problem in the Salt Lake Valley, a dried lakebed would cause terrible dust storms, furthering this issue. The lakebed has high levels of neurotoxins and carcinogens like mercury and arsenic. This toxic dust could be blown into the yards of innocent civilians looking to raise their families. Dust storms have become more common in recent years as there have been more than twelve in the last year, while just a decade ago there were none. 

 A dried-up lake would also mean the collapse of an entire ecosystem. With less water in the lake, salinity levels increase, and the water becomes too salty for even the brine shrimp, the lake’s only aquatic inhabitant. As one part of the food chain is eliminated, other species are put at risk as well– like the migrating birds that eat the shrimp on their journeys to warmer areas for the winter. 

A dried lake could also mean severe economic downturn for the state as well. Ski resorts benefit from extra lake effect snow, meaning that they can stay open later into the spring (and some years even the summer). Brine shrimp fishing and salt mining also contribute to the economy, and the drying of the lake would only hurt them more. 

This is not to say that there is no action being taken to fix this issue. Utah state legislature has been writing bills to combat the dry lake in many different ways. Someone even proposed that a pipeline be installed to fill the lake with water from the Pacific Ocean. While these bills can do a lot to help the lake, it will take much more than shorter showers to reverse years of drought and excessive water usage. 

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November 27, 2023 5:11 pm

Dear Katie ,’
Your post made me think that we can start losing our resorces that help provide . Something I wonder is what will the next step be, how would we start a new “farming” to preserve the resources we have left.

your name

October 19, 2023 5:57 pm

I’m glad you made a post about this issue, because this was an issue I constantly stew on. I really like how you incorporated ecosystems into this issue, because it was something I overlooked. What you said here “As one part of the food chain is eliminated, other species are put at risk as well– like the migrating birds that eat the shrimp on their journeys to warmer areas for the winter” really sealed the deal that this may be a big issue on a scale greater than the local Great Salt Lake habitats. When I was looking into this issue, I found an interesting graph that showed the Great Salt Lake’s water levels and how a heavy-rainfall year like this one only shows meager results in the lake’s water level. This goes to the political scale where the Utah governor, a farmer himself, isn’t doing anything to curbing usage of the water of the Great Salt Lake on farms. Taking scientific and statistical views at the drying up of the Great Salt Lake is the perfect approach to bringing awareness of the impending issue of the release of toxic gases and countering closed-minded sentiment. Thank you for posting this informative call to action, because this is the perfect basis to opening minds and making connections to take action on beneficial causes.

October 19, 2023 5:35 pm

Over 7 million migratory birds pass through the Great Salt Lake and rely on it as a food source. If you’re over by the lake, you’re bound to see all sorts of birds. I myself often see pelicans on the Jordan River, which connects to the lake. Just reading this article, you can get a sense of how many bird species rely on the Great Salt Lake – grebes, avocets, geese, ibises, pelicans, gulls, cormorants, etc. These birds are also prey for other animals. However, the lake drying up and subsequently becoming saltier means that the brine shrimp and flies will die off and it will be too salty for the birds to handle. This may also affect the extensive wetlands around the lake, which are quite rare in Utah. The earlier article mentions in reference to flowout areas that “the greatest species diversity and concentration of birds are often found in these areas.” According to this article, the North part of the lake is so salty that only 2 kinds of bacteria can live there. Ecosystems have a delicate balance, and when outside factors such as human activity upset that, the results can be catastrophic.

Last edited 8 months ago by Ender

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