Our Salt Lake | Urban Living
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Our Salt Lake

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I heard some info about our future regarding the Great Salt Lake. Frankly, it put chills up my spine and made me wonder if I should be thinking of an exit plan before it's too late to get the hell out of Dodge, because our lake is dying fast and the outcome is going to be horrific!

Our often-photographed but much-maligned lake is roughly 75 miles long and 28 miles wide, covering 1,700 square miles. It is the largest lake of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. It is also one of the most important bodies of water for bird migration in the hemisphere and if the lake dies, millions of migratory birds will also die ... as well as mammals, plants, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.

Many of you reading this might not know that part of the lake is fresh water and is fed by northern Utah streams. This is where our avian friends like to rest before migrating north or south. According to Westminster College's Great Salt Lake Institute, millions of birds from 257 known species rely on our funky, salty lake to survive.

The southern portion of the GSL is now at a new historic low—with some areas only 1.5 feet deep. There are algae and tiny creatures there that brine shrimp feed on, which are then eaten by those birds that love to get fat on sea monkeys (aka brine shrimp). If all those creatures die, then the birds will die.

As the water dries up, from poor runoff leading into the north and south sections, more lakebed is exposed to the elements. U.S Magnesium Corp. mines the lake, providing 14% of the world's supply of a mineral that is used in all sorts of metal products. Companies also take potash (fertilizer) from the lake, as well as salt for seasonings, plastics, roads and detergents. All of that becomes part of the dust mixing into our air and ending up on top of our snow in the winter, which affects our snowmelt. Do you see the trending circle of hell?

Utah's Legislature passed a bill a few years back that basically declares "Our lake is important to the state and it should have water." However, this bill did nothing to fund programs that could increase water flow to the lake.

Every hour on the hour, radio and TV news squawk about COVID and what it's doing to our country. I rarely see news about how scary it's going to be if and when our lake no longer produces the food necessary to maintain the environmental chain of life in Utah. Odd, but most local television news that I watch gives regular reports on Lake Powell, the Echo and Sand Hollow reservoirs, Bear Lake, etc., but never a regular report on our Great Salt Lake. The professor I listened to said that come this November, we could reach a tipping point after which the lake won't bounce back from this drought and we'll be facing more bad news on the horizon for the health of our state.