ENVIRONMENT

Great Salt Lake gains over five feet of water ahead of summer evaporation

Jul 6, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: 5:47 pm

Comparison between July 22, 2022 and June 5, 2023 as Great Salt Lake gains over five feet of water ...

Water levels are pictured in Buffalo Bay, looking at Antelope Island, as the Great Salt Lake experiences record low water levels on Friday, July 22, 2022, and after a record snowpack year on Monday, June 5, 2023. (Kristin Murphy/ Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy/ Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY— What a winter. Yes, we’re still saying that in July as The Great Salt Lake gains over five feet of water.

Much of the spring runoff that didn’t end up in a northern Utah reservoir ended up in the ailing Great Salt Lake, and boy did it deliver a much-needed boost.

The south arm of the lake grew 5 1/2 feet since it hit an all-time record low in November 2022. That’s almost triple what the lake normally gains before it loses depth in the hot, dry summer months.

“We’re feeling good about where things are right now … we’re not there where we need to be, but we’re so much better than we thought we might be,” said Brian Steed, the now-official Great Salt Lake Commissioner.

Steed said the lake typically grows about two feet in the winter and then loses that growth in the summer. In 2021 and 2022 the lake only grew about a foot before losing two feet in the summer.

Colder June helped the lake level

The gain of over five feet of water in The Great Salt Lake was helped along by the cooler June temperatures, which led to less evaporation.

“[It’s] pretty awesome because we end up having more water to keep,” Steed said.

Salinity levels continue to stabilize between both the north and south arms. And, Steed said with the berm on the causeway still lifted, the water levels started to equalize between both arms.

However, Steed said there is quite a bit of ground to make up. The lake is still five feet below what many scientists consider healthy levels.

In his new role, Steed said they’re working on having more solutions to present to the State Legislature in October. For now, conservation is going to be crucial in adding more water to The Great Salt Lake.

“There’s no more important issue in the land, water, or air facing the state than … The Great Salt Lake,” Steed said. “It’s really going to take all of us.”

Related reading: How much did Utah’s record snowpack help the Great Salt Lake?

 

 

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Great Salt Lake gains over five feet of water ahead of summer evaporation