Utah’s Great Salt Lake Could Disappear by 2027
A sign cautioning boaters at the Great Salt Lake marina, image: Rob Martin
The Great Salt Lake in Utah is currently losing water at a rate of 1.2 million acre-feet per year. This equates to over 391,021,130,000 gallons of water disappearing from the lake per year. Several universities and environmental organizations wrote a report this year sounding the alarm about this potential ecological catastrophe. They claim that if the lake continues to shrink at this rate then it could completely disappear by 2027.
If the lake does dry, it would result in the potential environmental and economic collapse of Salt Lake City. The substances lying in the bed of the lake are hazardous to people and exposure to the chemicals could result in Salt Lake City becoming uninhabitable. Joel Ferry, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, alerted the New York Times that the disappearance of the lake is like an “environmental nuclear bomb.”
The Great Salt Lake, image: Ruston Jones
Solutions like an enormous pipeline from the Pacific Ocean have been discussed to replenish the lake. However, Ben Abbott, an assistant professor of ecosystem ecology at Brigham Young University, explained to axios that water conservation methods are the most effective and cost-efficient.
This is not the first time that the booming city faced the issue of the potential collapse of the Great Salt Lake. Folks in the 1980s experienced a similar issue but were rescued by an unprecedented period of wet weather that replenished the lake. Since then, the lake’s water levels have been on a steady and alarming decline.
In desperate attempts, Utah lawmakers passed a $40 million bill last year to address the issue. Additionally, last month a $25 million federal bill was passed to research salt lakes in the western US
Regardless of how it sounds, scientists are not all doom and gloom. Many are hopeful and believe that we can reverse this issue with aggressive and smart maneuvers.
The Great Salt Lake from above, image: Urvish Prajapti