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Utah’s Great Salt Lake is shrinking, experts say

accuweather.com

Human activity is playing a role in the dwindling size of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, according to new research.

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Will the Great Salt Lake be reduced to dust?

deseretnews.com

Blame it on the pioneers and the historical diversions from a trio of rivers.

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Low water in Great Salt Lake reveals ‘rocks that are alive’

Some lakes are home to legendary monsters (here’s looking at you, Bear Lake), while others are home to other organisms. Great Salt Lake’s great lows have exposed microbialites, also known as bioherms, allowing scientists and researchers an uncommon opportunity to get a closer look.

thespectrum.com

As Utah’s Great Salt Lake continues to drop during recent years of drought, something strange and wonderful is coming into focus in the shallows and exposed lake bed.

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Signs of Liquid Water Found on Surface of Mars, Study Says

Exciting news from NASA this Monday morning! Scientists find strong evidence of water on Mars. Read more about it!

nytimes.com

Despite its reputation as a forebodingly dusty, desolate and lifeless place, Mars seems to be a little bit wet even today.

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Iron County sees a pipeline as its water savior — but not from Lake Powell

sltrib.com

In a community struggling with a depleted aquifer and land subsidence, the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District is banking on a 50-mile, $150 million pipeline to ease the area’s water shortage.

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Baseline Hydrology of Ashley Spring

SS-154 Baseline Hydrology of Ashley Spring

By: Paul Inkenbrandt, Janae Wallace, and Melissa Hendrickson

Ashley Spring is an important water supply for most of the residents in the Vernal area of Uintah County, Utah. The Geological Survey conducted a study to determine the baseline flow paths and water chemistry of the aquifer systems that provide water to the spring. Ashley Spring water is of high quality, which does not vary long term. A Substantial part of the water emanating from Ashley Spring has been in the groundwater system less than one week, originating as recharge at areas along Dry Fork where water seeps into sing and fractures. This CD contains a 54-page report and appendices.

GET IT HERE

UGS Official News Release: New Report Highlights Potential Impacts to Utah’s Snake Valley if Planned Nevada and Utah Water Development Moves Forward

February 19, 2015

Groundwater Levels in Western Juab and Millard Counties are Declining; Additional Pumping Will Accelerate Depletion and Hurt Sensitive-species Habitat and Vegetation

Salt Lake City – A seven year hydrogeologic study to monitor groundwater in Utah’s Snake Valley was recently released by the Utah Geological Survey (UGS), a division of Utah’s Department of Natural Resources. The study shows potential groundwater development in Nevada and Utah would lower groundwater levels and reduce spring flow in west-central Utah used to support agriculture, habitat of sensitive-species and vegetation for grazing.

“The time and resources committed to this study delineates groundwater levels, flow and chemistry in Snake Valley and adjacent basins to a much greater degree than was previously possible,” said Hugh Hurlow, senior scientist for the UGS Groundwater and Paleontology Program. “With pressure to develop groundwater in west-central Utah and east-central Nevada likely to continue, we needed to understand how future development and groundwater use was going to impact Utah residents and natural resources.”

The report, Hydrogeologic Studies and Groundwater Monitoring in Snake Valley and Adjacent Hydropgraphic Areas, West-central Utah and East-central Nevada, closely tested and monitored groundwater in Snake Valley, Tule Valley and Fish Springs in Millard and Juab counties.

Monitoring by UGS revealed that current groundwater use in Snake Valley is slowly depleting the basin-fill aquifer. Present pumping rates will continue to lower groundwater levels and reduce spring flow.

The study also shows future water development and increased pumping in Nevada or Utah would significantly increase the rate and area of groundwater level decline. Additional pumping for local agriculture use, or export from the area would harm springs and shallow groundwater that supports habitat of sensitive-species and vegetation used for grazing.

Additionally, researchers found that shallow basin-fill and deep carbonate-rock aquifers are interconnected. Increased pumping could also cause drawdown from both, which in turn could impact valleys beyond Snake Valley.

“Groundwater pumping would affect environmental conditions and current and future groundwater use in Snake Valley,” Hurlow said. “Taken together, the proposals for groundwater development in the region exceed the groundwater available for development. The current ecosystem would be negatively impacted by all but small levels of additional pumping.”

The UGS study was funded by the Utah Legislature in 2007, primarily to evaluate the impacts of a proposed project by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) to pump groundwater from several basins in east-central Nevada for use in Las Vegas. SNWA’s project includes wells in Snake Valley, within five miles of Utah.

SNWA’s original plan requested over 50,000 acre-feet of water per year (AFY) in Snake Valley and over 90,000 AFY in Spring Valley, immediately west of Snake Valley in Nevada. The Nevada State Engineer approved about two-thirds of SNWA’s request for Spring Valley, and has not considered the application for Snake Valley. Legal challenges to the Nevada State Engineer’s award have delayed the project indefinitely.

To complete the hydrogeologic study and groundwater monitoring, UGS developed a monitoring network that includes wells at agricultural areas, springs and remote sites. In all, 76 wells record water levels hourly, and new spring-flow gages are in place at six sites. Data from the study is available on the UGS Groundwater Monitoring Data Portal. Data collection is planned to continue for the foreseeable future.

The report is available for purchase from the Utah Department of Natural Resources Map and Bookstore, 1-888-UTAHMAP, GET IT HERE. A PDF version of the report is also available on the UGS webpage.

 

Media Contact
Nathan Schwebach
Public Information Officer, DNR
801-440-9094
nathanschwebach@utah.gov

Declining water level, sinking land highlight water problem

Here’s a read covering the issues in Iron County surrounding the declining underground water levels, and its effects up above.

ironcountytoday.com

Since at least the 1960s, more water has been removed from Cedar Valley’s underground water supply than has been replenished, and that problem is only getting worse.

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Jay Evensen: Shrinking Great Salt Lake signals need for better water policies

Great Salt Lake may ebb and flow, however its current low levels give impetus to talk about water use, and how to use it more wisely in the desert. Andrew Rupke, a minerals specialist here at UGS, joins the conversation in this article. Check it out!

deseretnews.com

Not many states have a defining natural feature that locals actually discourage visitors from seeing.

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