(The Center Square) – Utah’s Great Salt Lake has fallen 20.35 feet since 1986 and a continued decline could have devastating effects on the state’s economy, according to a Social media video posted Monday by the Utah House Majority, a week before a summit that is expected to discuss the impact of the lake’s decline.
The lake’s continued recession could cost 6,500 jobs and up to $ 2 billion a year, according to the video.
Speaker of the House Brad Wilson of R-Kaysville hosts the Grand Lac Salé Summit on January 5. It will include conservationists, industry leaders and state lawmakers “to discuss possible policy solutions to ensure that the Great Salt Lake is preserved for future generations to enjoy”, Wilson said in a Twitter post.
The state’s problems would go beyond environmental concerns if the lake continues to recede, according to the video. Snowfall could decrease by 27 to 45 inches per year, costing the ski industry up to $ 9.6 million per year.
Dust from the lake could release unhealthy levels of arsenic, lithium and zirconium in the area, causing hardship for residents.
The lake’s decline is said to be exacerbated by the increase in the state’s population, which is expected to double by 2065 and will require more water from the lake, according to the video.
The lake issue is also being addressed by federal lawmakers. U.S. Representative Blake Moore, R-Utah, co-sponsors the Law on the ecosystems of saline lakes in the States of the Great Basin. The bill would provide resources for scientists and federal officials to monitor salt lakes and recommend management and conservation programs.
“Utah’s Great Salt Lake is a critically important ecosystem, habitat, and tourism and business engine,” Moore said in a press release earlier this year. “But today, its water levels are at an all-time low, leading to habitat loss, decreased water flows and air quality issues.”
The bill was passed by the House committee on natural resources.
Republican US Senator Mitt Romney introduced a similar bill in the US Senate.