Great Salt Lake reaches historic low after its north arm got to 4,191.6 feet – one foot under the previous record set in 1963.
The Division of Fire, Forestry and State Lands is putting in motion an emergency management plan which includes stopping the illegal motorized travel and shorten the time for approving dredging operations.
The extractive industries find it harder to reach the brine water and the FFSL is committed to ease the access for the current leases.
The economic activity sustained by the Great Salt Lake is estimated at about $1.3 billion. Besides the economic importance, the lake serves as a nesting ground to hundreds of thousands of migratory birds.
According to Laura Ault program manager at FFSL, the lake provides water resources, recreational opportunities, flourishing wildlife, improved ecosystems and even a better quality of the air.
The South Arm is only about a foot higher than the North Arm even if it receives infusions of water from Jordan, Weber and Bear rivers and about 90 percent of the wastewater from the state’s treatment plants.
The two arms are separated by the Union Pacific Railroad finished in 1959 but breached 25 years later to let the water pass between the two arms and also to relieve the danger of flooding.
However, for the first time since the breach was made, in 1984, the water no longer moves between the two arms so the Great Salt Lake is making two different lakes – a saline South lake and a hypersaline North lake.
The South Arm might break the historic low-level at the beginning of the next year, depending on the weather and the level of precipitations in the area during the rest of the winter.
A new breach will be cut during the spring or the summer of the next year so hopefully the water will flow again between the two, even if this might mean a new level drop of the South Arm.
The project of the new breach has already been approved and the construction, which will include berms that would control the water flow between the two arms, has begun.
The State Parks Division of Utah is also starting a dredging project which aims to save the Lake Marina that operates on the South Arm. The marina was once full of sailboats but now it is just an empty place with docks simply sinking into the mud. Even if authorities will be able to save the marina it will take years before it will be used again.
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