SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Gov. Spencer Cox has issued an emergency order to raise the Great Salt Lake causeway berm to decrease the salinity of the lake effectively immediately.

Under the order, the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands will increase the berm height to a minimum of 4,192 feet in order to increase the depth and decrease the salinity of the south arm of the Great Salt Lake. The current water flow berm is set at 4,187 feet.

The 20-mile-long Union Pacific railroad causeway separates the lake into north and south arms.

According to the order, the Great Salt Lake reached a historically low surface elevation of 4,188.5 feet on Nov. 3, 2022. However, with the heavy snowfall Utah is receiving this winter season, the Utah Division of Water Resources shared the good news two weeks ago that lake elevation has risen 12 inches since last November.

The Great Salt Lake averages a depth of just 14 feet with lake records going back to 1847. The Lake is currently sitting at 4,189 feet in elevation, which is 11 feet below average. 

The Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Quality will prepare a management plan to help guide future adjustments of the berm.

The order will expire when the berm management plan has been implemented, according to the governor’s office.