Study shows worldwide lakes losing water, Utah is bouncing back

May 22, 2023, 6:00 AM

The record-breaking winter in Utah is helping the lakes around the state reach proper water levels,...

These photos provided by NASA Earth Observatory shows the Aral Sea is visible on Aug. 25, 2000, left, and on Aug. 21, 2018 between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. A new study Thursday, May 18, 2023, says climate change’s hotter temperatures and society’s diversion of water have been shrinking the world’s lakes, including the Aral Sea, by trillions of gallons of water a year since the early 1990s. (NASA Earth Observatory via AP)

(NASA Earth Observatory via AP)

SALT LAKE— A new study shows lakes and reservoirs around the world are losing water, however, Utah’s record-breaking winter is helping the lakes around the state reach proper water levels.

International researchers looked at satellite images from nearly 2,000 freshwater bodies from 1992-2020. They found that 53% of lakes globally had declines in water storage levels over that period of time.

Researchers state these declines are largely due to climate change, increasing evaporative demand, and human water consumption.

Here in Utah, surrounded by flooding and seemingly eternal snow, it’s hard to imagine these statistics apply to us.

Hydrologist Glen Merrill says our lakes lost a lot of volume over the past few years, and it will take many winters like this one to get them back to healthy levels.

“After reaching a record low, there’s a very very long way to go to see it get back to somewhat of a normal water surface elevation.”

Though the lakes need more work, Merrill says our reservoirs are on the mend.

“The majority of our small and medium sized reservoirs are expected to reach capacity after this record-breaking snowpack year.”

The study notes that water levels have risen in lakes located in the western United States due to high levels of snowpack. However, experts warn this reprieve is temporary, according to the Washington Post.

With long-term consequences in mind, local officials remind citizens to continue conserving water this year.

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Study shows worldwide lakes losing water, Utah is bouncing back