Record heat and extreme drought are making their presence known in Utah today and low water levels are forcing a Utah rowing club to say goodbye to its usual training ground.
According to the team, this is the first time in their 20-year history that they cannot row on water.
The nearly 50 members of the Great Salt Lake Rowing Club typically meet here twice a week.
Now they are looking for another place to practice their sport.
Irene Lysenko remembers a deeper lake from her childhood in Utah.
“We don’t remember a time – most of us – when we weren’t here,” Lyssenko said. “…wildlife, calm, beauty.”
As an adult, she taught the sport to beginners through the Great Salt Lake Rowing Club.
Member Meghan Saunders says there’s no such thing as water here.
“It’s a full body workout, being on the water is like my form of therapy,” Saunders said. “The Grand Lac Salé is a fascinating body of water. When the weather is perfect, you just have glassy water, beautiful and beautiful reflections.
But passing the launching ramp has become impossible.
“It’s very solid. You can bump into it, it won’t move if you try to run a boat through it,” Lyssenko said.
They rowed as long as they could.
“Drought feels much more real when your hobbies are affected by it,” Saunders said.
The rowers said it was now a handicap for them to train at the lake.
“When our oars hit the silt, we know it’s going to be tough to keep rowing,” Saunders said.
For the first time in 2 decades, the club is at a standstill.
“It’s easy not to feel much importance for something you don’t watch every day. But we watch it every day and we see it happening and we see the consequences,” Lysenko said.
They have seen other sports leave the waters.
They want to raise awareness of the problem in the backyard of the community.
“You can see how dry things are, we know we have to conserve water, so that brings up all those conversations,” Saunders said. “We try to be a good part and support in the community that advocates for some environmental awareness.”
Now they are looking for another site large enough for their boats.
If anyone has spots along the Jordan River, club members are interested in finding one to camp in so they can complete their fall season.