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The region is becoming critically stressed. Population growth in the area has been about 5 times the national average, and the population is expected to grow approximately 50 percent in the next 20 years.

The Great Salt Lake Basin provides a unique setting to study changes in hydrologic response and watershed function in a rapidly urbanizing watershed. Rapid population growth and development have strained the Great Salt Lake Basin's water supply and magnified water quality and other environmental impacts in the region. Most of this growth is occurring around the urban communities of Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Front. Population growth in the arid states of the United States, which includes the Great Salt Lake Basin, has been about five times the national average (Desert Meteorology, Thomas T. Warner, 2004, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 595 pgs.). The figure below shows population growth for the Great Basin Region over the past 30 years.

Population growth in the Great Basin Region
Population based on 1970-2000 U.S. Census Data

It is expected that this population growth will continue over the next 50 years. The following figure shows the projected growth of the urbanized areas surrounding the Great Salt Lake. If this population growth is realized, it is anticipated that critical stresses on the water resources and ecosystem of the Great Salt Lake Basin will be the result.

Projected Wasatch Front growth from 2000 to 2050

According to the following figure from the United States Bureau of Reclamation, it is highly likely that there will be water supply crisis within the Great Salt Lake Basin by the year 2025.

Potential Water Supply Crisis by 2025


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