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Boats back in the Great Salt Lake Marina thanks to rising water levels

Posted at 1:40 PM, Apr 17, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Ahoy! Sailboats are back in the Marina of the Great Salt Lake, serving as another sign that drought conditions are easing up in the Beehive State

Less than a year ago, the Great Salt Lake Marina was a ghost town but after a winter season with record-breaking amounts of snow, hints of life are returning.

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August 2022

On Monday, the Great Salt Lake State Park reported that the first two sailboats are back in the marina.

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On August 3, 2022, FOX 13 News reported the last boats had been pulled from the marina after lake levels continued to decline through the hot summer months.

The lake hit rock bottom in November 2022, marking a new historic low.

Photos show the bone-dry marina completely barren last summer, with water levels a significant distance away.

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August 2022

Compared to this year, photos show a big improvement for water in the lake.

Great Salt Lake Drought
Empty boat docks are viewed at the Great Salt Lake Marina, Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, near Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

In early April, officials reported that the lake measured three feet higher when compared to its low hit in November.

As spring runoff continues as Utah has even more precipitation in the forecast, it's likely water levels will continue to raise.

The news comes as Utah overall has seen big improvements in drought conditions, with the majority of northern Utah completely removed from drought status last week.

Although the water is overall good news for the state, crews have been diligently working to prevent flooding damage in neighborhoods and streets.

Community members have also joined the effort to prevent flooding by helping to fill thousands of sandbagsin cities across northern Utah.

“We did not think we were going to be putting any boats back in the lake this year," said Dave Shearer, the park manager of the Great Salt Lake Park Marina. "We might come up another two to three feet. We've already come up over three feet. On a normal year, we'll come up two feet during the spring runoff before we drop two feet by evaporation. I expect we'll come up a total of five to six feet this year and probably only drop one foot.”

Last June was the first time in Sherer's 25 years as park manager that all the boats had to be pulled out due to low water.

“These people want to get back in the water," he said. "They want to enjoy the lake they love, so we started getting the docks fixed and upgraded, and they're starting to launch, and they're all excited.”

The boats won’t be pulled from the lake any time soon; the DNR decided they would welcome boats back only if they knew they would be able to stay through the summer.

“We weren't going to let the boats go in unless they could stay all year," said Shearer.

Frequent visitors like Apoua Satele can already feel the difference at the park now that boats are back.

“I'm excited to see all the boats and all the people out here because it's been a while," she said.