Great Salt Lake level drops to near-record low

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GREAT SALT LAKE — Water levels at the Great Salt Lake are just a couple of feet above a record low set in 1963, and state geologists say it's likely the lake will continue to evaporate.

"We've been in a long-term drought," said Jim Davis with the Utah Geological Survey. "We've been on a decline for more than a decade."

Davis said after an unusually large snowpack in 2010, the Great Salt Lake rose 5 feet, but continuing drought conditions lowered it again. However, he said the trend should slow in the near future.

"The lower the lake gets, the smaller the surface area," Davis said. "Therefore, you have less evaporation coming off the lake."

At the marina, some of the docks already touch the ground below. Harbormaster Dave Shearer said the keels of several boats already are stuck in the mud. Some boat owners had their vessels removed by crane as a precaution.

"We lost about 20 boats," Shearer said. "We have another crane Sept. 10. We'll probably lose several more boats."

Great Salt Lake level drops to near-record low
Photo: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

Shearer said docks that once had a waiting list now have open spaces. He expects several of the boat owners will not come back.

"We actually had a good winter," Shearer said. "But because all the reservoirs and groundwater were dry, it didn't get down to the Great Salt Lake."

Davis said if the area does not get an above-average snowpack, the drying trend likely will continue.

"If we have the similar trend next year, we're gonna be knocking on the door of 1963 level, and maybe even lower," Davis said.


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