Climate change and rapid population growth are drying up the Great Salt Lake in Utah.
As the name implies, this lake is huge but getting smaller.
And scientists at Utah universities warn it will disappear in five years if no action is taken.
Here's Utah Governor Spencer Cox talking about that study in his recent State of the State Address.
Let me be absolutely clear - we are not going to let that happen.
So what are the consequences of the Great Salt Lake completely drying up?
To understand that, let's bring in NPR correspondent Kirk Siegler for more. Hi, Kirk.
OK. So how close are we from an environmental breaking point here, and what can be done so we don't get there?
Well, we are very close, so I'm told, if we're not there already.
For some context, the Great Salt Lake is anywhere from about eight to nine feet below what it should be.
Utah's having a snowy winter right now. That's helped a little bit.
But we would need several of these in a row.
You know, this crisis is the result of the 20-plus-year megadrought here in the West and also water diversions from rivers upstream from the lake for farming, mostly going to animal feed crops, as well as cities.
You know, Utah is one of the fastest-growing states in the West.
And scientists say we're at this breaking point.
I went out on the lake with one of them on a recent cold, gray morning.
Carly Biedul of the Great Salt Lake Institute - we're walking across the dried-up shore of the lake bed.
It's this otherworldly experience. And she's trying to find brine fly larva, Leila, to take back to her lab.
Now, it's getting harder and harder to find this. They're at the bottom of the food chain.
As the lake dries up, it's getting too salty to sustain life.
And, you know, if they go away, then the brine shrimp go away, and then the thousands of migrating birds that rely on the brine shrimp may go away. So it's disastrous.
The threshold is - we're kind of at the threshold. So if things get any saltier, we're super, super worried.
OK. Well, this doesn't sound good.
Kirk, Salt Lake City sits in the valley where, in the wintertime, cold air and pollution from cars and industry gets trapped.
It already has some of the dirtiest air in the nation.
So if the Great Salt Lake dries up, does that also then make this worse?
Yeah, this is probably the biggest, most pressing concern with the lake drying up.
The dust from the dried lakebed would be toxic.
You've got high concentrations of mercury and arsenic out there, so if dust storms were to blow, they'd probably go east, right to Salt Lake City,
particularly immediately into neighborhoods that are close to the lake, that are also close to Salt Lake City International Airport, a lot of busy freeways and an oil refinery.
So neighborhood activists, as you can imagine, are very concerned about this.