Utah’s Great Salt Lake drops to lowest level ever recorded | Connect FM | Local News Radio

Utah Department of Natural Resources

(SALT LAKE CITY) – The southern portion of the Great Salt Lake in Utah has fallen to its lowest level ever, the US Geological Survey said on Saturday. Lake levels have been falling for some time, but the record-breaking drought in the west has accelerated its decline in recent months.

The average daily water level fell about an inch below the previous record of 4,194 feet in 1963, with records dating back to 1847.

A series of images released by Utah’s Division of Water Resources showed the clear contrast between what the Great Salt Lake – the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere – looked like at its highest and average levels compared to the new record low.

The drought numbers in Utah this year show how dire the situation is there. The latest report by the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday shows that nearly 100% of the state is experiencing extreme drought conditions – level 3 out of 4.

To make matters worse, more than two-thirds of the state is now in an exceptional drought – the highest level of drought. A year ago, no exceptional drought conditions were reported in Utah.

The effects of the prolonged drought are far from over.

“Based on current trends and historical data, the USGS anticipates the water level could drop another foot in the next few months,” said Ryan Rowland, data chief for the USGS Utah Water Science Center, in a statement.

The USGS and Utah officials said they would continue to closely monitor sea levels and the drought situation in the state as potential impacts not only on the state’s natural resources but also on the economy could cascade.

“We need to find ways to balance Utah’s growth with maintaining a healthy lake,” said Brian Steed, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, in a statement.

“Ecological, ecological and economic balance can be found by working together as elected leaders, agencies, industry, stakeholders and citizens,” he added.

Great Salt Lake is a major tourist destination, with over 1.14 million people visiting the lake’s three largest state parks – Willard Bay, Antelope Island, and Great Salt Lake – in 2018, according to the University of Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute Utah.

Drought conditions are expected to only worsen in the coming weeks, with the likelihood of widespread, significant rainfall being limited.

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