UTAH DROUGHT

The Great Salt Lake has a chance to be healthy again for the first time in over a decade

Apr 17, 2024, 3:00 PM | Updated: May 28, 2024, 9:11 am

an aerial photo shows the great salt lake, water level outlook is looking good for the lake...

Promontory Point during an EcoFlight around the Great Salt Lake on Tuesday, April 9, 2024. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — In a couple of months, the Great Salt Lake has a chance of reaching its healthy range for the first time in over a decade.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service recently forecasted the Great Salt Lake to rise by as much as 1.5 feet from spring runoff.

Currently, the lake is at 4,194.5 feet above sea level. That’s 1.5 feet from the tail-end of its healthy range of 4,196 to 4,200 feet.

However, it’s important to note the NRCS thinks it’s most likely the lake will rise by just under a foot. On the low end, it thinks there’s a chance the lake could only rise by less than 6 inches.

It’s hard to tell exactly what will happen with other factors like upstream diversions, reservoir levels and the railroad causeway that divides the lake in two.

But, there’s a chance the Great Salt Lake will be “healthy” for the first time since 2013 and remarkably, not even two years since hitting a record low of 4,188.5 feet in late 2022.

“It’s just fantastic news,” Joel Ferry, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources told KSL NewsRadio.

“It’s really neat to see where we are today.”

Great Salt Lake water level still needs attention

However, Ferry noted that there’s still work to do to get water to the lake.

For one, the Great Salt Lake typically loses about 2 feet every summer to evaporation.

Ferry also said he’d like to see the lake closer to 4,200 feet, partly because it would cover up more of the exposed lakebed.

The lakebed is laced with toxins like arsenic, mercury and selenium. It’s a key contributor to dust flying around the Wasatch Front during wind storms. 

Thankfully, Utah has had two great snowpacks in a row, but as Utahns have seen over the past decade, not every year is so forgiving.

“Today the drought is over, but we are going to be going into a drought in the near future…guaranteed,” Ferry said. “It’s just the cycle that we’re in.”

Ferry called on Utahns to keep conserving water in any way possible. He said that’s part of the reason why the Great Salt Lake is where it is today.

“The actions we take today are going to pay huge, huge dividends in the future,” Ferry said.

Read more news about the Great Salt Lake from KSL NewsRadio.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Utah Drought

Deseret News writer Joe Bauman in the background looks at the irrigation ditches with no water and ...

Adam Small

More than half of Utah is now ‘abnormally dry,’ but still not in a drought.

The latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor lists 53% of Utah's land as 'abnormally dry' but the state is still not in a drought.

14 hours ago

East/west traffic on 4700 South at Bangerter Highway is going to shut down for a year due to constr...

Adam Small

How Utah construction workers are battling triple digit heat

Construction crews are having to deal with intense heat in Utah state this summer by taking breaks and communicating with one another.

8 days ago

Shrinking Great Salt Lake...

Ben Winslow, FOX 13

Lake-effect drought? New study shows a shrinking Great Salt Lake may exacerbate Utah’s drought conditions

A new study shows the impact of the shrinking Great Salt Lake could be exacerbating drought conditions.

10 days ago

Colorado River Basin...

Adam Small

Utah, other Colorado River Basin states want to ensure conserved water gets to Lake Powell

Water managers from Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico recently adopted a resolution to begin work to create a program that tracks conserved water.

11 days ago

Great Salt Lake...

Adam Small

Great Salt Lake and Lake Powell reach multi-year highs, but one is already losing water

Great Salt Lake and Lake Powell have seen increased their water levels however, Great Salt Lake has started to recede.

23 days ago

Parts of Utah have been given a heat advisory on Sunday. A view of the state Capitol and the Salt L...

Kennedy Camarena

Parts of Utah under excessive heat warning

Utah has been given two different kinds of heat advisories for parts of the state by the National Weather Service on Sunday.

27 days ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

The Great Salt Lake has a chance to be healthy again for the first time in over a decade