Federal officials will more closely monitor the environmental, economic and health impacts of shrinking lakes throughout the drought-stricken West after President Joe Biden on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, signed a law passed through Congress that creates and funds monitoring efforts into lakes including Utah's Great Salt Lake, California's Mono Lake and Oregon's Lake Albert.

SALT LAKE CITY — Scientists will get $25 million to study salt lake ecosystems in the drought-stricken U.S. West, as President Joe Biden signed legislation Tuesday allocating the funds in the face of unprecedented existential threats caused by the lack of water.

The funding allows the United States Geological Survey to study the hydrology of the ecosystems in and around Utah’s Great Salt Lake, California’s Mono Lake, Oregon’s Lake Albert and other saline lakes.

Amid a decadeslong drought, less snowmelt has flowed through the rivers that feed into the lakes, causing shorelines to recede and lake levels to plummet.

Dwindling lake levels jeopardize the people, animals and businesses that rely on maintaining the ecosystem.

The lakes often serve as critical habitats for migratory birds. Dust exposed by receding water levels can be blown into the air and have dangerous health effects on surrounding communities. And further depletion threatens the canals and infrastructure that a multi-million dollar mining industry needs to extract salts from the lakes.

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