Dozens of researchers warned the Great Salt Lake “as we know it, is on track to disappear in five years,” in a damning report released in January. The team singled out excessive water consumption as the leading culprit, as the lake has lost 73% of its water and 60% of its surface area since 1850.

U Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Kevin Perry (pictured above) isn’t one of the report’s many authors but he also believes many people misinterpreted this study when it was first released. He explains that, yes, it would still be a Great Salt Lake in five years; however, if water consumption trends continued without much change, it wouldn’t be recognizable anymore.

“It will be dead,” he said, pointing out that salinity levels were already on the brink of killing off brine shrimp at the time the report was released. “The salinity would be so high (that) the brine shrimp and brine flies will all be gone and the birds will all be starving.”

So how did this year’s record snowpack and spring runoff impact the lake’s future?

Read the full story on KSL TV 5.