ENVIRONMENT

Despite ecosystems improving around The Great Salt Lake Water conservation is still key

Apr 28, 2023, 1:00 PM

water conservation...

Dust blows across the dry lakebed of the Great Salt Lake near Salt Lake City on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. (Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY— The Great Salt Lake has risen three and a half feet since hitting an all-time low in November 2022, but water conservation should still be a priority. 

All that new water is not only good for the lake’s health, but for people and wildlife living around it.

Less toxic dust

Arsenic and other toxins in the lake bed have been a big concern for people living along the Wasatch Front.

When it’s windy, the exposed lake bed gets swept up into the air and into the lungs of thousands of Utahans.

Laura Vernon, The Great Salt Lake Basin Planner with The Division of Water Resources, said the biggest areas of concern have been Farmington Bay and Bear River Bay. But, even those areas are starting to see more pockets of water.

“Dust is not an issue…if it’s covered by water,” Vernon said. “The more water we can get to blow over Farmington Bay and Bear River Bay…the better.”

While there are still dry areas of lake bed, Vernon said Farmington Bay, which was, “pretty dry” last year now has, “pockets of water all over it,” Vernon said.

Boat ramps opening

Recently, the boat ramp at The Great Salt Lake Marina has opened again, which has opened the door for sailors, researchers and even search and rescue teams to access the lake.

“If a plane crashed or anything like that…we would need to access the main body of the lake,” Vernon said.

Easier to harvest resources

Companies that work along The Great Salt Lake, for example, U.S. Magnesium, don’t have to extend their reach as far to harvest resources from the lake.

“The need to extend their canals is not as dire,” Vernon said in reference to these companies. “The higher the lake level, the easier it is…to withdraw the water that they have water rights to.”

More food for brine shrimp, flies and birds

All the new water is also helping revitalize Utah’s official crustacean. The brine shrimp, as rehydration helped them hatch. In turn the, livelihood of migratory birds has also been positively affected.

But despite all that, Kyle Stone Wildlife Biologist for the Division of Wildlife Resources says we’ve still got work to do in the form of water conservation.

“Everyone can do a little bit more,” said Stone. “Or at least their part.”

Further, Stone said, “We’re not out of the woods yet,” consequently, people need to continue to be diligent with water conservation. 

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Despite ecosystems improving around The Great Salt Lake Water conservation is still key