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Updated: Jun 4, 2023

During our many road trips from the Bay Area to the Midwest to visit our families, we often drove by Utah’s Great Salt Lake on I-80 and marveled at the huge expanse of water on the edge of the desert. This is the dominate feature that drew millions of people to the area, but it’s now in peril.

Salt Lake is drying up and unless drastic steps are taken soon, it will all but disappear. Already the lake has lost 73% of its water as trillions of gallons are siphoned off for irrigation and to service the the region’s growing population. Brine shrimp that feed the millions of migratory birds that come through each year are dying because of elevated salt levels.

Overuse of water, a historic mega drought, and warmer temperatures from climate change have all contributed to this epic catastrophe. Dust laced with arsenic and other toxic minerals now blows off the dry lake bed, endangering the health of everyone who lives nearby.

Scientists say that a reduction in water use of up to 50% is needed to avert the most dire consequences, but whether this can be done in time to save the lake is an outstanding question.

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