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Great Salt Lake drops below historic low level

The Great Salt Lake in Utah reached a historic new low level on Sunday, reaching an average daily surface water elevation of 4,190.1 feet at the lake’s southern end, officials announced.

The announcement, made in a joint press release on Tuesday between the Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and United States Geological Survey (USGS), marks the second time within a year that the lake has reached a record low elevation.

The Utah DNR and USGS noted that Sunday’s measurement beat the previous historic low elevation recorded in October, when it was measured at 4,190.2 feet. Prior to that, the lowest recorded elevation was 4,191.35 feet in October 1963.

“This is not the type of record we like to break,” Utah DNR Executive Director Joel Ferry said in a statement. 

“Urgent action is needed to help protect and preserve this critical resource. It’s clear the lake is in trouble. We recognize more action and resources are needed, and we are actively working with the many stakeholders who value the lake.”

Officials said that the Great Salt Lake will likely continue to see lower elevation before the fall or winter, based on historic data, “when the amount of incoming water to the lake equals or exceeds evaporative losses.” 

The news comes against the backdrop of a nagging drought in the state and climate change, The Salt Lake Tribune noted.

But the Great Salt Lake is not the only major body of water seeing a drastic reduction in its elevation.

Lake Mead, the biggest man-made reservoir in the country, was full roughly two decades ago, according to The Associated Press. But Lake Mead is now seeing low levels, with officials discovering human remains and a previously sunken World War II-era boat in it. 

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