A Flood in the Desert

by David W. Eckhoff, Principal; Eckhoff, Watson & Preator Engrg., 1121 E 3900 S. Parkview Building C, Suite 100, Salt Lake City, UT 84124,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1987, Vol. 57, Issue 3, Pg. 40-43

Document Type: Feature article


Since 1982 the Great Salt Lake has risen from an elevation of 4,200 ft above mean sea level to a historic high of 4,211.85 ft in June 1986. The sharp rise in the lake has caused considerable flood damage to industry and lakeside property. Since the Great Salt Lake is a terminal lake, evaporation is the only way that water can be naturally removed. To increase evaporation, engineers have devised the West Desert Pumping Project. The project will use low lift pumps to push lake water to a natural basin in the West Desert, approximately 40 mi west of the Great Salt Lake, creating a 500 sq mi pond. Roughly 40% of this water will evaporate, which will reduce the peak level of the lake between six and 12 in. annually. The remaining water, with its salt and minerals, will be returned to the lake proper. Pumping is expected to begin in mid-March 1987.

Subject Headings: Lakes | Salt water | Evaporation | Pumps | Floods | Arid lands | Salts | Sea level

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