Grand Lac Salé so low, the water level measurement system no longer works

SALT LAKE CITY – The Great Salt Lake has sunk to such a low level that the US Geological Survey’s measurement system at the marina is no longer working.

“Levels are too low for the Saltair Lake Elevation Gauge to measure water levels in the South Arm. The gauge has been in use for more than 100 years,” the U.S. Department of Natural Resources said Friday. Utah in a statement to FOX 13 News. “The U.S. Geological Survey now reports the elevation of the South Arm from the Causeway Gauge near Lakeside. The gauge stations are operated by the USGS, with cooperative matching funds from DNR and the Forestry Division , fires and state lands.”

In its latest drought report, the agency noted that the Great Salt Lake is at 4,188.9 feet, down from the previous record of 4,190.2 feet on July 3. The lake should continue to drop for a few more weeks and then start to fill in a bit as cooler temperatures and winter arrive. The unknown is how much.

The Great Salt Lake plummeted to record levels following Utah’s prolonged drought, climate change and water diversion. Heads of state responded by rushing to enact water conservation measures and spending millions trying to get more water into the lake.

Beyond the precise measurements of the lake, the marina can no longer accommodate boats. The boat ramps extend into a muddy lake bed. Utah State Parks is unable to launch lifeboats from the site and had to find other work locations nearby. Pleasure boats were removed from the marina earlier this summer.

“The Department of Natural Resources is finalizing plans to dredge the marina to allow for emergency boat operations,” the agency said.

However, Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake Marina remain open to visitors where Utah State Parks hold educational events to teach people about the lake’s ecosystem and why it is so important to the state.

“The Great Salt Lake is critical to our state. It contributes $1.3 billion to our economy, provides more than 7,700 jobs, supports 80% of Utah’s precious wetlands, and provides a stopover for millions of birds to rest and refuel each year. It also contributes to our snowpack,” the ministry said in its statement. “We are committed to finding solutions to protect this critical resource. In doing so, we are helping our economy, our environment, our wildlife and our future.

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

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