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Great Salt Lake continues to shrink but one expert is optimistic

Posted at 11:28 AM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 13:38:14-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Right now the Great Salt Lake continues to shrink at an alarming rate despite our wet spring. Experts say more water needs to be diverted to the lake to prevent it from drying up. But one prominent expert is feeling a little more optimistic these days.

Dr. Bonnie Baxter has been studying conditions at great Salt Lake for a long time. And this morning, on a cold, rainy day, she says several people showed up at Liberty Park to express their concerns and also begin the process of coming up with solutions.

Thursday was an On The Record session sponsored by the Great Salt Lake collaborative and the Salt Lake Tribune. Dr. Baxter co-authored an obituary for the great Salt Lake three years ago because she was feeling so hopeless about the prospect of it drying up. But that essay is now generating interest and support for solutions. And she says today was a perfect example of why she’s feeling a little less pessimistic.

“There’s so many reasons to care about this system," said Dr. Baxter. "People are concerned about real estate development, they’re concerned about air quality, they’re concerned about the ski industry, they’re concerned about the jobs in salt extraction and in Brine shrimping on the lake. So everybody has a different reason to care.”

Dr. Baxter said these are still baby steps in the grand scheme of things and yet she admits, that you have to walk before you can run.

She also says the time for action is now due to the fact that many scientists are predicting a worsening megadrought for the southwest in the coming years due to climate change and the explosive growth here in Utah and surrounding states.