STORIES IN THIS SERIES

DEAD SEAS

Great Salt Lake faces ruin

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- For a long time, the lake that lends its name to this city was taken for granted by most here and treated as a sewer by some of the nation's biggest polluters.

But the Great Salt Lake can no longer be ignored.

The lake is afflicted with all the problems facing lakes in the American West, including misguided water management schemes, historic drought and climate change.

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DEAD SEAS

Drought threatens 'genius' regs that stopped L.A. water grab

MONO COUNTY, Calif. -- Two landmark decisions -- one from the California Supreme Court and another from state water regulators -- made Mono Lake the most protected salt lake in the West. With those 1994 regulations, the State Water Resources Control Board established a system that put the lake’s health above Los Angeles' need for drinking water. But more than two decades later, global warming and a historic drought have put the ultimate goal -- to restore Mono Lake's ecological health -- in jeopardy.

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DEAD SEAS

Shrinking lake spawns public health nightmare

Aide Munguia-Fulton, a nurse who runs a community program for children with asthma, has been seeing referrals for assistance soar in the last three years as the Salton Sea has begun receding due to water management schemes and a persistent drought.

Receiving 400 referrals last year alone, Munguia-Fulton has funding to enroll no more than 200 kids a year. She's managed to include more children, but she knows the lake is expected to shrivel more quickly starting at the end of 2017, exposing thousands of acres of a dusty, toxin-laced salt bed and exacerbating already high asthma rates. CONTINUE READING >>>

 

DEAD SEAS

Landmark water transfer creates environmental wasteland

IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. -- The Salton Sea has gone from a midcentury vacation spot for movie stars to a post-apocalyptic desert with mounds of dead fish here, gurgling "mud pots" there, blasts from a military bombing range on the horizon and sulfuric stench everywhere.

The worst is yet to come.

California's largest lake (350 square miles) is about to be turned into a toxic dust bowl with potentially catastrophic health consequences for about 650,000 people who live in and around the sprawling drainage basin. CONTINUE READING >>>

 

DEAD SEAS

Infamous water heist -- and hubris -- reap poison whirlwind

INYO COUNTY, Calif. -- America's first water war was fought here in the early 1900s, sparked by a Los Angeles sneak attack on the Owens River. When it ended, the booming metropolis had slurped up the water, Owens Lake was a poisoned salt flat and Owens Valley residents were choking in thick clouds of toxic dust. The Owens Lake story is a cautionary tale for the West, where cities, farms and endangered fish are battling over water supplies threatened by a warming climate and historic drought. At least a half-dozen salt lakes -- including Utah's iconic Great Salt Lake -- are dying.
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