Report: Great Salt Lake shrinking more than a foot annually

A view of the salt left behind from the Great Salt Lake after receding several hundred yards from the shore near the Spiral Jetty in Box Elder County.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah’s Great Salt Lake is shrinking every year, but experts are implementing measures to slow the water loss, a new report said.

The Great Salt Lake Advisory Council says the water depth has dropped about 11 feet (3.35 meters) over the past 10 years, KSTU-TV reported Sunday.

“It will continue to decrease at about the same amount over the next couple of decades if more is not done to bring water to the lake,” Great Salt Lake coordinator Laura Vernon said.

The lake is crucial to the region’s recreation, migratory birds and billion dollar economy.

The advisory council said the shrinking water level left unchecked could also cause increased air pollution from the wind blowing minerals out of the exposed lake bed.

The council narrowed a list of 70 strategies to 12 “actionable” measures that could keep the lake from evaporating, Vernon said.

Under western water law, irrigators lose rights to water they do not put to “beneficial use” and the council’s proposals include recognizing rights to water that is not used.

“We want to make sure that they aren’t penalized for letting that water go downstream,” Vernon said. “That the beneficial use is then seen as getting the water to the lake.”

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