Great Salt Lake hits record-low water levels

Jul 7, 2022, 11:02 AM | Updated: Jul 19, 2022, 4:39 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — You can still have fun at the Great Salt Lake.

Jim Young sure did. He’s from San Diego and couldn’t wait to visit the lake.

“It’s very salty,” he said with a laugh. “But just floating in the water, it’s amazing.”

It was his first time at the Great Salt Lake. Because of that, he doesn’t have the perspective of how the lake’s greatness has been reduced because of drought and low water levels.

Earlier this week, the lake hit a record low water level.

Great Salt Lake drops to new historic low

“It’s sad to see this,” Dave Shearer said.

Shearer has more than 25 years of perspective on how far the water line has receded.

He’s the manager at Great Salt Lake State Park, and when water levels hit that all-time recorded low, he was feeling pretty low, too.

“Great Salt Lake is in my blood,” he said. “If you find anybody that’s been in this community for a long time, definitely they’re very passionate about it.”

Shearer says it’s tough to see all the boats that had to be taken out of the marina and dry docked.

His biggest concern, though, is search and rescue.

The boat used to help people on the lake is in the marina and would have a difficult time getting out because of low water levels.

“This lake is so big — when we have strong south winds, and us being on the south end of the lake, it drags the water out,” Shearer said. “So, with the lake being as low as it is today, it’s so low at the mouth, it would be hard to get the big boat out.”

Plans were discussed Wednesday afternoon during a Utah Department of Natural Resources meeting to use federal funds to dredge the marina. That would allow rescue boats to get out on the lake in an emergency, such as a plane crash or sunken boat.

“We’re just at bare bones operations at this point trying to make the marina functional so we can attend to people, kayakers, paddle boarders, anyone who’s out there that needs help,” said Laura Vernon, who is the Great Salt Lake Coordinator with the Utah Department of Natural Resources.

Utah legislators passed water conservation measures this year to help the lake. But it’s not an overnight fix.

“The lake is not going to be saved just by one person or one entity,” Vernon said. “It’s going to take a group effort of enormous proportion.”

It’s an effort almost as big as the lake itself, which not only brings recreation to the state, but is also important for health to keep potential toxic dust from blowing in the lakebed, snowpack, tourism, the ski season, and migratory birds, to name a few.

Young says it only takes one visit to realize how important it is to save the lake.

“Definitely. I would say everybody come out here and try it,” he said.

Click here for more stories on the Great Salt Lake as part of the Great Salt Lake Collaborative.

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Great Salt Lake hits record-low water levels