STATES CHRONICLE – While ice is melting in the Arctic, we’re having another inland water problem as the Great Salt Lake is evaporating and water levels reach minimum.
Depending on location, global warming has different effects on different locations. If it’s the Arctic, glaciers are melting away; if it’s the desert, it is expanding; if it’s the temperate continental area, we are hit by storms or droughts and sometimes it seems like they’re both coming at the same time.
While some parts of our country have been affected by recent storms after having an unusually warm Christmas, Utah is experiencing drought. The proof is the constant decrease of water levels in the Great Salt Lake which have reached minimum levels, again. The fact that this happened two years in a row, made authorities think of a sort of ecological crisis management plan which should somehow save the lake’s water.
Although last year the lake also reached minimum levels, this year it broke the record, being 1 foot lower, according to water watchers.
Besides drought, which is definitely the main cause for such low water levels, there is also an infrastructural issue which adds to the problem. It looks like in 1984, the Union Pacific Railroad Causeway opened the breach as a mechanism to control flood.
However, this made it impossible for the water to flow freely between the arms of the lake. This is why the north arm is now having trouble and it’s drying out. The measurements made in November showed that the water levels are at approximately 4.200 feet.
Authorities are waiting for snow to come hoping that the south arm of the lake will not suffer the same fate as the north arm.
Why is Great Salt Lake so important? Besides giving the name of the capital city of Utah, the lake is five times saltier than the ocean and it has a depth of 35 feet. It is home to about 5 million shorebirds which migrate every year. Besides the environment, the lake also helps the economy, with eight companies extracting 2.5 million tons salt annually.
It is hoped that once the new railroad bridge is finished, which estimated to happen by the end of spring, the water levels between the two arms will become more balanced and salt will no longer be present only in the south arm.
All in all, since it looks like there’s not much we can do about the drought we hope the works on the new bridge will finish in time to save the Great Salt Lake.
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