Jan 10, 2024 - News

Doctors plead with Utah lawmakers to save the Great Salt Lake

Sailboats sit in a parking lot at the Great Salt Lake State Park on August 02, 2021 near Magna, Utah. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Sailboats in a parking lot at the Great Salt Lake State Park in 2021 near Magna. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

More than 300 medical professionals signed a letter to state lawmakers, urging them to pass policies to save the Great Salt Lake from environmental collapse ahead of the upcoming legislative session.

  • They warned that without improvement, a "serious public health crisis will plague Utah's future."

Details: Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, one of the plaintiffs suing the state for allegedly failing to get more water into the shrinking lake, coordinated the letter.

What they're saying: "This decline threatens the health of over 2 million people who live immediately downwind of the lake," the letter reads. "As the lake recedes, dust storms originating from the exposed lakebed are ultimately inhaled by Utahns throughout the Wasatch Front."

  • Of note: Spokespeople for the state Senate and House did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

Threat level: Breathing in harmful lakebed dust could result in various health consequences, including an increased risk of stroke, medical professionals said in the letter.

Between the lines: The letter was delivered one week before the 45-day legislative session, where state lawmakers are expected to debate water-saving measures and funding to protect the lake.

Context: The Great Salt Lake, the largest saline lake in the Western Hemisphere, is on track to collapse within the next decade unless there's a significant increase in water flow, researchers wrote in a grim report released last year.

This article originates from the Great Salt Lake Collaboration, a solutions journalism initiative designed to inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake.

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