The Great Salt Lake in Utah has bottomed out this week. The salt lake, like the rest of the western United States, suffers from chronic drought exacerbated by climate change. Local authorities are concerned with the impact on the economy and the environment.
The lake, which is one of the largest salt lakes in America, naturally fluctuates with seasons and precipitation. But it hasn’t been this low since records began in 1847, when the first Mormons arrived in the Salt Lake City area.
This historic record was first broken in October 2021, the US Geophysical Institute (USGS) said in a statement. Joel Ferry, director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, said: “This is not the type of record we would like to break. We need to take urgent action. To protect and preserve the lake, he added, “It is clear that it is facing difficulties.”
Lake degradation also threatens the many species of migratory birds that use Greater Salt Lake as a stopover. This decline could also have consequences for the health of the local population.
Scientists recently warned that sediments rich in arsenic particles cover the bottom of the lake. If the surface of the lake shrinks excessively, the wind can disperse it and eventually poison people who inhale the particles.
Much of the western United States experiences exceptional droughts, which reduce river flows and dramatically reduce levels of lakes and reservoirs.
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