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Ella Sorensen surveys the retreating waters of the Great Salt Lake at Audubon’s Gillmor Sanctuary near Salt Lake City. 

Ella Sorensen surveys the retreating waters of the Great Salt Lake at Audubon’s Gillmor Sanctuary near Salt Lake City. 

Photographer: Peter Yeung/Bloomberg CityLab

Salt Lake City Confronts a Future Without a Lake

Utah’s Great Salt Lake is disappearing as a “megadrought” persists across the Southwest, forcing the fast-growing city nearby to curb its water use. 

From the southern rim of the Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, barely any of the pinkish, saline waters that used to engulf the million-acre basin are visible. 

“For years the lake lapped right here,” says Ella Sorensen, motioning at the gritty dried lake bed underfoot. “But I have watched it disappear over time.”