The United States Geological Survey reported on Saturday that the southern portion of Utah’s Great Salt Lake had reached its lowest water level in recorded history.
The USGS released a statement Saturday saying information collected at the SaltAir gauge location found the water level on Friday averaged about an inch lower than the previous record of 4,191.4 feet, which was recorded in 1963.
According to the USGS, records of Great Salt Lake elevations date back to 1847.
According to USGS Utah Water Science Center data chief Ryan Rowland, Friday’s elevation is unlikely to stand for long.
“Based on current trends and historical data, the USGS anticipates water levels may decline an additional foot over the next several months,” Rowland said in the USGS statement. “This information is critical in helping resource managers make informed decisions on Great Salt Lake resources. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
Researchers attributed the historic low to conditions including the low snowpack from last winter and the current hot and dry summer.
“While the Great Salt Lake has been gradually declining for some time, current drought conditions have accelerated its fall to this new historic low,” said Brian Steed, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources. “We must find ways to balance Utah’s growth with maintaining a healthy lake. Ecological, environmental and economical balance can be found by working together as elected leaders, agencies, industry, stakeholders and citizens working together.”