Great Salt Lake in U.S. Utah drops to historic low

2021-07-20 22:05:33 GMT2021-07-21 06:05:33(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

LOS ANGELES, July 20 (Xinhua) -- The Great Salt Lake in the U.S. state of Utah, the largest salt water lake in the western hemisphere, dropped to a level of historic low amid mega-drought covering the West United States, Utah's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said on Tuesday.

The lake was confirmed to have dropped to an elevation daily average of 4,191.4 feet (about 1,277.5 meters), tying the previous record set in 1963, and was expected to drop even lower in the coming days, according to local FOX 13 news channel.

Some environmentalists claimed the lake had already dropped before, the report said, adding state officials measured it on daily averages instead of moment-by-moment monitoring of a fluctuating lake so that the new low was only recorded on Monday and verified on Tuesday morning with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Candice Hasenyager, the deputy director of Utah DNR's Division of Water Resources, was quoted as saying that the authority was concerned about the continual decline of the lake levels, which has been going on consistently over the past few decades after an all-time high in 1983 and has been exacerbated by the drought hitting the state.

As of Sunday, the DNR estimated that reservoir storage statewide continued to drop and stood at an average 58 percent of available capacity while 26 of Utah's largest 42 reservoirs remained below 55 percent of available capacity, according to local Desert News newspaper.

"We are no longer pulling water stored from this year's runoff. Instead, we're relying on water that has been stored in our reservoirs during previous years. We're pulling water from our emergency savings," DNR Executive Director Brian Steed told the Desert News, "No one knows how long this drought will last, so it's vital that we avoid using our stored water too quickly."

In a brief interview with FOX 13 on Tuesday morning, Governor Spencer Cox said the state authority was working to come up with solutions to survive the drought, adding that Utahns continuing to conserve water would help the Great Salt Lake recover.

"The more water we save, the more water there is to run into the Great Salt Lake. So we're working with scientists with our various departments and nationally on what it's going to take to keep those levels high enough, to keep that ecosystem viable. We can't lose that ecosystem," he noted. Enditem