Water level of Utah's Great Salt Lake sinks to historic low

State and federal officials have found that the water level fell to 4,191.6 feet in November.

Craig Hall | Jan 25, 2016

Utah's Great Salt Lake is now at a historic low for the second year in a row thanks to an ongoing drought.

State and federal officials have found that the water level fell to 4, 191.6 feet in November, a foot lower than last year, which was also a historic low, according to an Associated Press report.

The water level of the Great Salt Lake can vary greatly -- in 2011, it rose a whopping 5 feet, thanks in large part of a higher snowpack than usual, but water levels have been on a steady decline since then.

The lake could have lower to go, and experts think it could hit 4,191.35 feet, which would break the low record set in 1963. That's because the snowpack remains low due to drought.

The news will have ripple effects for local mining companies charged with pumping brine out of the lake. Officials won't issue any new permits as they are concerned such activities will further lower the water levels. The brine is good for the companies because they can extract salt from it and use it as fertilizer or to melt ice on roadways.

The smaller northern part of the lake is separated from the southern part by a causeway, which stretches 21 miles and is used by the Union Pacific Railroad. In the past, there had been two culverts to facilitate water flow between the two parts of the lake, but they had been closed after the railroad noticed them sinking. The railroad will break ground next year on a 180-foot bridge to break up the causeway and allow for flow between the two branches.

bottom ad