Scientists warn that Great Salt Lake could disappear in five years

If Utah does­n’t take imme­di­ate action to con­serve water, the Great Salt Lake as we know it will dis­ap­pear in just five years, accord­ing to Amer­i­can scientists.

Now, each year, enough water to cov­er more than 2.5 mil­lion acres of land (more than 10,000 square kilo­me­ters) at a depth of 1 inch would need to return to the lake to reverse the decline.

By com­par­i­son, one acre-foot con­tains approx­i­mate­ly 326,000 gal­lons (over 1.2 mil­lion liters) of water.

Cur­rent­ly, only about 0.1 mil­lion acre-feet of water is returned to Utah’s famous lakes annu­al­ly, which is far from enough.

Since 2020, the lake has lost more than 1 mil­lion acre feet per year.

A study led by sci­en­tists at Brigham Young Uni­ver­si­ty (BYU) con­cludes that water con­sump­tion in the region needs to be reduced by at least a third, and pos­si­bly by half.

Researchers, led by BYU ecol­o­gist Ben­jamin Abbott, wrote in a com­pre­hen­sive report on the sub­ject that “despite encour­ag­ing growth in leg­is­la­tion and pub­lic aware­ness, most Uta­hans are skep­ti­cal of the cri­sis.” unaware of the urgency,” he wrote.

“There is evi­dence from around the world that the loss of salt lakes will cause long-term cycles of envi­ron­men­tal, health and eco­nom­ic suf­fer­ing. With­out con­cert­ed relief, air and water pol­lu­tion will spread. It is expect­ed that many endan­gered species will be reg­is­tered, and that agri­cul­ture, indus­try and over­all qual­i­ty of life will decline.”

The report calls on the gov­er­nor of Salt Lake City to begin imme­di­ate emer­gency action across the basin of the city’s name­sake lake.

The Great Salt Lake is not only an impor­tant habi­tat for flo­ra and fau­na, but also plays a role in reg­u­lat­ing the region’s cli­mate by pro­tect­ing air qual­i­ty, remov­ing water pol­lu­tion, and pro­vid­ing snow­fall to near­by mountains.

How­ev­er, recent research indi­cates that this ecosys­tem is at a dan­ger­ous tip­ping point. As mil­lions of liters of water are drained from the lake each year, the salin­i­ty is start­ing to rise. The salin­i­ty is so high that ani­mals and plants are strug­gling to survive.

Pho­to­syn­thet­ic micro-organ­isms have died out in large num­bers, turn­ing the waters pink in some areas, such as the north­ern arm of the lake.

“The north­ern arm of the lake warns of what might hap­pen in the future if the flow is not restored. It was cut off by a rail­road line in 1959 and the north­ern arm has lit­tle runoff,” it is reported.

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