Great Salt Lake with Katherine Walter on Tuesday's Access Utah
Last fall, the Great Salt Lake, the largest saline lake in the western hemisphere, reached its lowest level ever recorded—and its saltiest. Katharine S. Walter, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Utah, joins us today to discuss her recent cover story for The Nation: “The Great Salt Lake Is Becoming Too Salty to Support Life.”
From brine flies to brine shrimp to eared grebes to pronghorn and buffalo, the lake supports an exquisite ecosystem whose collapse is literally making people sick. And while climate change is partly responsible for the lake’s decline, 70 percent of its loss of water is due to human overuse. There is still money to be made from the lake’s water. But there’s no plan to protect the health of the 1.2 million people who live in the Salt Lake Valley and the hundreds of thousands more expected to arrive. Meanwhile, those at greatest risk are those who won’t be able to leave. And as a toxic lake emerges from the receding water and suburban sprawl inches ever closer to meet it, Utah’s water issues are becoming air issues too.