SALT LAKE CITY — Historic low water levels are plaguing rivers, reservoirs and lakes in Utah including the Great Salt Lake. The lake’s levels are expected to reach a 170-year low this year.
On KVNU’s For the People program on Friday, Lynn de Freitas, executive director of the Friends of Great Salt Lake organization said these are scary times for the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere.
“I think it’s fair to say it’s a tense time for everyone. If it’s not, then I’m not quite sure where people are. But as it pertains to Great Salt Lake, most certainly Friends of Great Salt Lake, our mission is to preserve and protect the Great Salt Lake ecosystem through education, research, advocacy and the arts. The Great Salt Lake ecosystem is a public trust resource,” de Freitas said.
She said that means the state has a legal responsibility to manage sovereign lands and public trust resources like the lake.
“That requires all of our energy and commitment and stewardship prowess,” she added, “to work hard to address the pressures that this particular system is going through under drought conditions, under these really unusual times of water challenges and growing population and air quality issues.”
In highlighting the stress the Great Salt Lake has been under, de Freitas said a paper by an emeritus professor in Utah State University’s Department of Watershed Sciences documents that the accumulation of upstream diversions and sequestering water into reservoir storage – along with droughts – has drained lake levels by about 11 feet since the time of Utah statehood.
To find out more about the Friends of Great Salt Lake and how you can get involved visit FOGSL.org.