July 12, 2008

The Pros and Cons of a Low Water Level at Great Salt Lake

By Lynn Arave Deseret News

-- Pro: The famous Spiral Jetty, a man-made art formation in the north arm of the lake, remains readily visible. There are also fewer islands in the Great Salt Lake, as more are connected to the mainland. The islands are also larger and there is more exposed shore all along the lake.

-- Pro: The shoreline companies that extract minerals from the lake will find them easier to take out on the one hand, since they are more concentrated. However, at the same time, the companies will find a receding lake harder to reach and may have to extend their canals and intakes.

-- Pro: Lower water levels will mean less erosion on the man- made roads and structures around the lake, such as the causeway to Antelope Island and the Lucin Cutoff railroad causeway.

-- Con: Some boat harbors will remain low, too. Boating will be tough on the lake, Brian McInerey, hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, said.

-- Con: Visitors to the lake will have to walk out farther at both Antelope Island and Saltair to reach the water.

-- Con: A vanishing Farmington Bay could also mean dust will blow there more frequently, as it did in 2004.

-- Pro -- or con (depending on your affection for snow): McInerey said a smaller Great Salt Lake will mean the lake effect in wintertime will be diminished, but not by much.

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