Utah’s Great Salt Lake has hit a record low water level for the second time in less than a year, a troubling sign amid historic drought conditions — made worse by climate change — across the western United States.
The lake dipped to 4,190.1 feet on Sunday, lower than the last time the water’s surface matched a low record in October 2021, according to US Geological Survey data.
According to the USGS and the Utah Department of Natural Resources, that level will likely continue to decline through fall or early winter. Levels decline when the amount of water lost to evaporation exceeds incoming water.
“This is not the type of record we like to break,” Utah Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Joel Ferry said. “Urgent action is needed to help protect and preserve this critical resource. It’s clear the lake is in trouble. We recognize more action and resources are needed, and we are actively working with the many stakeholders who value the lake.”
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Scientists and advocates are urging the West to cut its water usage to combat protection conditions.
Utah politicians have been trying to come up with proposals that prioritize conservation and lake preservation. Earlier this year, the Republican-majority legislature passed a bill putting $40 million toward saving Great Salt Lake.
Lawmakers are also looking at ways to curb water usage in the state, where residents consume some of the most water per capita in the country.
According to the US Drought Monitor, drought conditions are expected to persist over the next three months in much of Utah. Most of the state is currently experiencing at least a “severe” drought.
Contributing: The Associated Press