Above average snowpack lifts water levels, boaters’ spirits at Great Salt Lake

Posted at 7:10 PM, Apr 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-21 21:10:45-04

GREAT SALT LAKE, Utah -- Water levels at the Great Salt Lake are the highest they’ve been in six years, and it’s because of all the snow northern Utah received over the winter.

“Over the last two years the marina has gotten really low, so we had to pull about 250 boats out of the lake," said Dave Shearer, harbor master for the Great Salt Lake Marina.

Shearer said things got so bad at the Great Salt Lake that last summer some boaters gave up altogether.

“Most people did not go back into the water because they were not confident in the lake levels; this year, they are a lot more confident and they are ready to go back in,” Shearer said.

That’s because this year’s snowpack is 120 to 150 percent above average.

“They seem to be coming every five to seven years, these kinds of large snowpacks,” said Randy Julander with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. “It’s been since 2011, previously was 2005, before that was '97.”

The Natural Resources Conservation Service said the lake's water level has increased a foot since last year, and they expect it to rise at least another foot as the snow continues to melt.

“More water we have in the Great Salt Lake, the more it covers the mud flats," Julander said. "Later on in the summer time those things dry out, you get windstorms and things, puts a lot of dust in the air, which of course degrades air quality overall."

As for boaters, they can’t wait to take advantage. Josh McEvoy bought a brand new sailboat.

“Basically this year with all the snow we’ve had and things, it was just a great year to go ahead and make the jump get a boat and get out here on the lake,” McEvoy said.