Here’s how much water is flowing to the Great Salt Lake as the snow melts

May 23, 2024, 3:28 PM | Updated: Jun 4, 2024, 3:22 pm

water mirroring sky from boat on Great Salt Lake...

Sunset on the Great Salt Lake in May, 2024. (Suzanne Stradling)

(Suzanne Stradling)

About 37% more water is flowing into the Great Salt Lake from its tributaries than in a typical year, according to federal data.

NOTE: This article is published through the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that partners news, education and media organizations to help inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake — and what can be done to make a difference before it is too late. Read all of our stories at

About 37% more water is flowing into the Great Salt Lake from its tributaries than in a typical year, according to federal data.

As of Sunday, nearly 1.62 million acre-feet of water had gushed past gauges in the Bear River, Weber River, Goggin Drain and the Farmington Bay outlet heading toward the lake since Oct. 1, 2023, data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows.

The median cumulative flow for those four gauges as of May 19 is 1.18 million acre-feet. (One acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons).

Storms toward the end of January, February and March have made a difference that shows in reservoir levels and water flow.

As of last week, many reservoirs across the state were more than 90% full. Only two are below 60%: Yuba Reservoir in Juab and Sanpete counties and Lake Powell.

Lake Powell water and rock

Lake Powell in May 2024, as seen from Chopper 5. The human-made lake fills Glen Canyon with water from the Colorado River. (Winston Armani, KSL TV)

As the state releases water from reservoirs, it flows from several of those through streams, creeks and other rivers until it reaches the Great Salt Lake’s tributaries.

Most of the 1.62 million acre-feet — more than 527 billion gallons — that’s flowed toward the lake so far this water year has surged along the Bear River.

About 838,000 acre-feet flowed past gauges in the northern tributary between Oct. 1, 2023, and May 19 of this year, according to the USGS data.

That’s about 5% more than this point in the 2023 water year, and nearly 119% more than the same time in the 2022 water year.

More water than last year also is flowing past gauges in the Goggin Drain, where 226,000 acre-feet have surged through. That’s more than twice the flow as of this time last year and about 730% more than the 2022 water year as of May 19.

Water flow is up in the Weber River and at the Farmington Bay outlet compared to 2022, but there is less moving past those gauges so far this water year than in 2023.

As of Oct. 1, 290,000 acre-feet of water and 265,000 acre-feet have coursed past gauges in the Weber River and at the causeway at Farmington Bay, respectively.

Lake levels are rising in both the north and south arms.

Overall, lake levels remain low but are hovering around 4,195 feet — the level needed to avoid the “adverse effects” that harm overall ecosystem health and keystone species, like brine shrimp.

Megan Banta is The Salt Lake Tribune’s data enterprise reporter, a philanthropically supported position. The Tribune retains control over all editorial decisions.

KSL 5 TV Live

Great Salt Lake Collaborative

rainbow above shallow water and brown plants with mountains and clouds behind...

Ben Winslow, Fox13

Great Salt Lake has likely hit its high mark for the year and will start dropping

The Great Salt Lake has likely peaked, reaching its highest water levels of the year and will start dropping again.

6 days ago

A webcam shows a time-lapse of a dust storm passing through the Salt Lake Valley Wednesday, May 17,...

Megan Banta, The Salt Lake Tribune

Great Salt Lake’s drying lakebed isn’t ‘toxic’ or the biggest source of dust, experts say

Experts say The Great Salt Lake isn't the leading cause of dust in Utah. Desert playas where other lakes have already dried up — including the Great Salt Lake Desert to the west of the lake itself — along with gravel operations, construction and drought also cause dust storms.

9 days ago

An undated photo of the cross that Christopher "Kit" Carson left on a rock on Fremont Island in 184...

Carter Williams,

Why this explorer’s carving on a Great Salt Lake island rock is now on a historic register

A cross that an explorer etched in stone during a tour of the island nearly 181 years ago is now one of the newest additions to the National Register of Historic Places.

10 days ago

Overhead image of the area around the Bear River Massacre Site that includes the Bear River that fl...

Andrew Christiansen, University of Utah student

‘Cultural healing’: Q&A as restoration at Bear River Massacre Site begins

The restoration of Wuda Ogwa, the site near Preston, Idaho, along the banks of the Bear River, where the Bear River Massacre happened, is underway by the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation.

22 days ago

A portion of western Weber County has been selected as an area for a possible inland port. Nearby h...

Mike Anderson and Mary Culbertson, KSL TV

Massive inland port project targets western Weber County, concerning residents, environmental groups

A portion of western Weber County has been selected as an area for a possible inland port. Nearby homeowners and environmentalist groups are not pleased.

24 days ago

The Lucin Cutoff is seen in a flight over the Great Salt Lake on April 9. The Great Salt Lake's sou...

Carter Williams,

Great Salt Lake’s southern arm reaches ‘significant’ level as spring rise slows down

The Great Salt Lake's southern arm has reached a "significant" level before the lake's expected summer drop.

29 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Here’s how much water is flowing to the Great Salt Lake as the snow melts