Question by Jason Williams

Each aspect of life in Utah will be impacted if Great Salt Lake disappears, says Jaimi Butler, coordinator of Westminster College’s Great Salt Lake Institute.

“The problem is, Great Salt Lake isn’t going to just disappear. It will turn into an environmental catastrophe that won’t go away,” she said. 

Alkaline dust from the exposed lakebed would worsen air quality for all who live in the region. Increased rates of asthma and cancer could be seen in the Wasatch Front population as a result. 

The increase in alkaline dust will also decrease the snowpack Utahns rely on each year, furthering the water crisis. 

Laura Vernon, Great Salt Lake Coordinator for the state, is concerned about the economic losses Utah will experience if the lake dries. 

“The economic revenue generated by mineral extraction, the brine shrimp industry, and recreational activities will be gone. Around 7,000 Utahns will lose their jobs,” said Vernon.

Utah will lose the annual $1.3 billion revenue from these industries without Great Salt Lake. Future costs to fix the dried lake will add to the economic stress if the lake dries. 

—Reported and written by McCaulee Blackburn