July 16, 2021
Best of the States
AP takes immersive look as drought puts ‘flatlining’ Great Salt Lake at historic risk
As the western U.S. finds itself in the grips of one of the worst droughts in recent history, the AP West region staff has delved into every aspect of the drought’s impact across the region. In one of the hardest-hit areas, the Salt Lake City-based team of Rick Bowmer, Lindsay Whitehurst and Brady McCombs documented that Utah’s Great Salt Lake may be headed to the lowest water levels in 170 years.
Reporting ahead of other news outlets, they delivered an all-formats package with stunning visuals showing readers how the dying lake is impacting people and wildlife and is a harbinger of worrisome drought-related consequences ahead. Decades of drought and water diversion in the booming region have hurt bird habitats, forced boats from shallow water and exposed dry lakebed that could send arsenic-laced dust into the air that millions breathe.
The result was a compelling package that had the highest engagement of all AP stories on July 6 and fourth-most for the week.
For distinctive work that expands AP’s ongoing coverage of climate and drought in the West, the team of Bowmer, Whitehurst and McCombs wins this week’s Best of the States award.