Utah has a pink snow problem

An image depicting snow algae
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Utah’s KUER news reports that pink snowOpens in a new tab. is being observed at elevations of 6,000 – 7,000 feet.

While the snowpack is welcome for a state where 95% of its water supply is dependent on snow melt, the pink color is not.  A green algae species is causing the pink hue and contributing to early snow melt.  The algae is nothing new, according to the scientists interviewed by KUEROpens in a new tab., but the increasing amount of it is a symptom of climate change.

Utah experienced drought last summer, with concerns about the dwindling Great Salt Lake reported throughout the year.  In his 2022 year-end report Opens in a new tab., the state’s senator Mitt Romney wrote, “Climate change remains a top area of concern for me as drought and water issues have plagued our state this year. I was proud that two of my bills amplifying the work being done by our state Legislature and governor to save the Great Salt Lake were signed into law. The Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement was also implemented this year, bringing running water to the 40% of Navajo Nation in Utah who lack it. This settlement became a reality with last year’s bipartisan infrastructure bill.”

Image and Credit:

An example of a snow field tinted by snow algaeOpens in a new tab. (Chlamydomonas nivalis).  Iwona Erskine-Kellie, 2007 via Wikimedia Commons.


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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January 3, 2023 8:31 pm
Congratulations on The Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement and all the households that got water! Algae is no fun, as a pool owner most of my lif, I’m familiar with how fast it can grow and what it takes to combat it. The article doesn’t state any plan of action so, I cant help wonder if it’s going to be addressed.

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