Great Salt Lake Environmental Bomb

The Great Salt Lake is drying up. The article goes onto say that a portion water that evaporates from the lake is captured by snowfall or rain in the mountains, and flows back into the lake. But with less surface evaporation, there is less precipitation, so it becomes a self-reinforcing cycle. Even more alarming, the Salt Lake area is already projected to run short of water by 2040.

The response from the Utah State Legislature is to block attempts to conserve water. The thinking is that it is better to die in a Mad Max-like apocalyptical scenario of arid toxic dust clouds than being forced to buy a low flow toilet.

As an aside, in Seattle it is uncommon for homeowners to water their lawns in the summer. They just let their lawns go brown. In Salt Lake, where is it much hotter and has much less water, people tend to have lush green lawns all summer.

SALT LAKE CITY — If the Great Salt Lake, which has already shrunk by two-thirds, continues to dry up, here’s what’s in store: The lake’s flies and brine shrimp would die off — scientists warn it could start as soon as this summer — threatening the 10 million migratory birds that stop at the lake annually to feed on the tiny creatures. Ski conditions at the resorts above Salt Lake City, a vital source of revenue, would deteriorate. The lucrative extraction of magnesium and other minerals from the lake could stop.

Most alarming, the air surrounding Salt Lake City would occasionally turn poisonous. The lake bed contains high levels of arsenic and as more of it becomes exposed, wind storms carry that arsenic into the lungs of nearby residents, who make up three-quarters of Utah’s population.

(NYT soft paywall)…


As an aside, in Seattle it is uncommon for homeowners to water their lawns in the summer. They just let their lawns go brown.

When we lived in a house in the Seattle area we did neither of those things. We just set the mower to where the blade was three inches off the ground (as high as most residential mowers will go), mowed every couple weeks, and didn’t rake. About as easy as you can get without being cited for neglecting your lawn. And we had a lush, smooth lawn all summer. This worked fine for the more than ten years we lived in one place, and the seven in another.

Meanwhile one neighbor mowed - short - every weekend, watered every night through the hot part of summer, fertilized every fall, and had to reseed some part of their lawn almost every year. And occasionally lent us books and articles on lawn care which explained why their way was better.

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