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The Great Salt Lake in Utah is in danger of disappearing, and it’s not just a concern for the unique ecosystem that depends on it. As the lake levels decrease, 800 square miles of lakebed are being exposed, and the soil is full of natural and manmade toxins such as mercury, arsenic, and selenium. With the wind and dust storms, the toxins can spread to more than 2.5 million people, posing a risk to human health. Scientists predict that the Great Salt Lake could become the Great Toxic Dust Bowl within five years, threatening the air quality and health of millions.
The Great Salt Lake is a “terminal lake” that is fed by rain, snow, and runoff, but with no rivers to take water to the ocean, salt and minerals build up over time. Only brine flies and shrimp can survive in the salty water, and it supports 10 million migratory birds. However, as the water evaporates without replenishment, the lake is at risk of becoming a system of lifeless finger lakes, and the bottom of the food chain is collapsing. This is an ecological disaster that could lead to a human health disaster, warn experts.
The Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, is leading the charge to educate the public about the urgent need to address the water crisis. Bonnie Baxter, director of the institute, visits schools, retirement homes, and farm conventions to spread the word that every drop of water counts now more than ever. Her message is that it’s not just the brine shrimp that are at risk but also the future of Salt Lake City.
The state is now taking the warning seriously, and a new partnership between university researchers and state officials overseeing natural resources, agriculture, and food have formed a “Great Salt Lake Strike Team.” The team is urging lawmakers to rewrite water law, and scientists are working on various proposals to save the lake, including a plan to pipe water from the Pacific. However, these proposals are expensive and may contribute to planet-warming Pollution.
Baxter believes that the cheapest solution is for the state to buy some of the farmers out of their water rights and release some of this water into the natural system. She emphasizes that many farmers want to be part of the solution because they, too, live in the area. By taking action now, Utah can avoid a catastrophic event and the billions of dollars in remediation costs that come with it. The Great Salt Lake is not just “lost water” – it’s essential to the state’s environment, economy, and health.
The fate of the Great Salt Lake is in the hands of the state’s residents, lawmakers, and business leaders. It’s time to take action and prioritize the health of the environment and communities. With collaboration, commitment, and creative solutions, Utah can protect the Great Salt Lake and prevent the emergence of the Great Toxic Dustbowl. Every drop of water counts, and everyone has a role to play in securing a sustainable future.
So, let’s act now before it’s too late. Support local Conservation efforts, spread the word, and demand that lawmakers take swift action to protect the Great Salt Lake. We have the power to make a difference and secure a sustainable future for generations to come.
- The Great Salt Lake Will Disappear in Five Years Without Emergency Rescue, According to Scientists
- Drought Causes Great Salt Lake to Dry Up and Release Arsenic Into the Air
- Petition: Protect Utah’‘s Great Salt Lake
- The Great Salt Lake is Drying Up and Releasing Arsenic into the Air
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