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Pink water washes over a Great Salt Lake salt crust in May. Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP

Utah's Great Salt Lake is in trouble, with serious ramifications for one of America's fastest-growing areas.

Why it matters: It's the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River and has been shrinking for years, with the mega-drought making it even worse, reports AP's Lindsay Whitehurst.

  • The lake’s levels are expected to hit a 170-year low this year.
  • Wildlife is suffering from the decline, especially birds and shrimp.
Visitors stand in the shallow waters in June. Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP

The waves have been replaced by dry, gravelly lakebed that’s grown to 750 square miles. Winds can whip up dust from the dry lakebed that is laced with naturally occurring arsenic.

Tourism is also at risk: The dust from the lakebed could speed up snowmelt at Utah's popular ski resorts.

  • And once-popular lakeside resorts are now long shuttered.
People swim at Saltair in 1933. The resort once drew sunbathers who would float like corks in the Great Salt Lake's extra salty waters. Photo: Salt Lake Tribune via AP

The bottom line: To maintain lake levels, diverting water from rivers that flow into it would have to decrease by 30%.

  • But for the state with the nation’s fastest-growing population, addressing the problem will require a major shift in how water is allocated.

Go deeper

California's Caldor Fire nears South Lake Tahoe: What you need to know

Flames consume multiple homes as the Caldor fire pushes into the Echo Summit area, California on Monday. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

California firefighters worked into the night to try and stop the growing Caldor Fire from reaching the resort city of South Lake Tahoe, as evacuation orders were expanded to border communities in Nevada.

The latest: The wildfire had grown to more than 199,600 acres and was 18% contained, as it threatened almost 34,000 homes and other structures in the area, per the Sacramento Bee.

4 mins ago - Health

Other drug companies want to help make the vaccines

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Generic drug companies have asked Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to license their COVID-19 vaccine technology to help increase global production, but so far the vaccine makers have given them the cold shoulder.

Why it matters: Other companies are saying they have extra capacity to make more vaccines. Not using that extra capacity could prolong the pandemic throughout the world.

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.