Hydrologic Reconnaissance of the Southern Great Salt Lake Desert and Summary of the Hydrology of West-Central Utah (TP-71)

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Water Rights and Water Resources

By: J. S. Gates and S. A. Kruer

The southern Great Salt Lake Desert includes an area of about 2,600 square miles, more than 70 percent of which is barren, saline mudflats or salt flats. Great Salt Lake is the remnant of Lake Bonneville of Pleistocene age, which covered much of western Utah, including the Great Salt Lake Desert. The drying up of this extensive freshwater lake left the mud and salt flats ? the salt on the salt flats and in the saline mud is both a residue from the evaporation of the lake and slat left by evaporation of ground water, as the mudflats are the locus of discharge of much ground water in the Great Salt Lake Desert area.

Average annual precipitation ranges from less than 5 inches in the lowest part of the desert to more than 20 inches in the mountains on the southwest edge of the desert. The total annual precipitation is estimated to average about 880,000 acre-feet. No perennial streams originate in this area of internal drainage and runoff reaches the desert floor only during or after intense summer thunderstorms or during the periods of rapid snowmelt.

The purpose of this report is (1) to analyze available hydrologic data and describe the hydrologic system, (2) to evaluate existing and potential water-resource development, and (3) to identify additional studies that might be needed.

Other Information:
Published: 1981
Pages: 55 p.
Plates: 4 pl.
Location: Beaver County, Juab County, Millard County, and Tooele County
Media Type: Paper Publication

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