Antelope Island will be an island again by the end of the summer, but despite massive snowpacks and spring runoffs, Lake Powell is still going to have that unsightly bathtub ring.
Lake Mead near Las Vegas, however, will get more water. An additional 3.3 million acre-feet of water will be released from Lake Powell, so water users in Southern California can breathe and bathe a little easier.
All of this is because water managers in Utah and the entire upper Colorado River basin are preparing to deal with something they haven't had for years: Massive snowpack, more than 150 percent of normal.
If all goes as expected, that means massive runoff, which means things that have been drying up for the last decade will get wet again.
First and foremost: Great Salt Lake.
Dave Nastz, of the U.S. Geographical Survey, said Great Salt Lake's surface was 4,192 feet above sea level last fall. That was a foot above the 1963 record low, which was as low as anyone saw the lake since the Mormon pioneers arrived in 1847.
That low level had a number of effects: The causeway to Antelope Island in Davis County became surrounded by dried mud flats. A land bridge emerged on the south end of the island, effectively making the island a peninsula.
Wetlands along the lake shore dried up, to the point Farmington Bay was more of a canal. The operator of a private hunting preserve on Fremont Island could drive to his property from Antelope Island. Marinas on Antelope Island and near Saltair became nearly unusable.
No more. As of Friday the lake was at 4,196 feet at the Saltair marina west of Salt Lake City, and rising fast. That isn't even runoff from the mountain snowpack yet.
Beau Uriona, a hydrologist for the National Resources Conservation Service, said the lake rise now is just from water in the canyons that isn't caught by dams, snow on the mountain benches and even the snow from people's front yards.
The mountain snowpack is still frozen, waiting for warmer temperatures.
Reservoir managers are releasing a lot of water, he said. They need the reservoir space when the runoff does start.
Nastz was quick to say that Great Salt Lake is still a long way from endangering any homes or farmlands along its banks. Areas in western Weber and Davis counties, as well as Salt Lake County near Tooele and Grantsville, suffered when the lake rose in 1986.
"We were approaching a historic low with the lake levels last fall, so we've got plenty of freeboard to take all the water this year" he said. "This is going to be a great boon to boating in the Great Salt Lake, and I'm looking for a big boon."
Just how high the lake will get is a matter of some speculation. Randy Julander, who directs the Utah snow survey for the National Resource Conservation Service, declines to guess.
Julander would be the one to know. He directs a vast network of snow-measuring sites and has access to computer models, historical data and the resources of the National Weather Service.
Despite all that, or maybe because of it, he quit predicting how high the lake would get "because we got tired of looking stupid. If you participate in the annual betting pool on the rise of the Great Salt Lake and the forecaster never wins, it's time to quit."
Uriona said there are too many variables to make a correlation between snowpack and lake rise: Soil moisture, weather, the amount of water that farmers draw off for irrigation and the amount of evaporation.
A big factor is how far down the lake is now, he said.
When the lake starts out low, it will rise quickly, but the rate of rise will slow even when the same amount of water is flowing in.
That's because Great Salt Lake is built like a funnel: It is deep at the center -- an average of 35 feet -- but then spreads out quickly into vast plains that take a long time to fill up.
"Looking at how much it has already come up this year, even though we have a huge snow year, looking at how much surface area we have," said Uriona, "it's going to slow down."
John Luft, Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Manager for the Utah Department of Natural Resources, said the lake rising means changing bird habitats.
"The lake, it's so dynamic and transitory. The shoreline is so unique that as some habitats are taken away, some are created," he said. "The worst thing that would happen to the lake is if it was just static, just stay the same elevation. When it fills up and dries up, it makes it better for a lot of these birds."
More lake water is also better for the brine shrimp business, a multimillion dollar industry that harvested 24 million pounds of shrimp eggs this year. With about 8 million pounds of that salable product, at $20 to $30 a pound, he said that adds up to a huge economic benefit from the lake.
Lake Powell is a different story, but not because there isn't massive runoff.
Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Barry Wirth said the estimate is that 12.8 million acre-feet of water will flow into Lake Powell this spring. That's roughly enough water to fill up Pineview Reservoir 128 times.
"The last time we were that big was 1999 water year, the period that ended Sept. 30 1999, and the drought started right after that."
The drought is why Lake Powell is only 52 percent full. The silt left by the water dropping created what looks like a bathtub ring.
Wirth said the extra inflow will not raise Lake Powell, because it will be passed on to Lake Mead.
Lake Powell is one link of the Colorado River Compact, which covers water supplies for Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. During the drought years, Lake Powell released a minimum of 8.23 million acre-feet to Lake Mead, in Nevada, which has dropped 110 feet since 1999.
Any extra amounts released from Lake Powell are controlled by a complex set of rules, he said, but the bottom line is that, this year, an extra 3.33 million acre-feet will be released, raising Lake Mead by 20 feet.