July 20, 2024
Lake Tahoe's famed crystal blue water is finally getting clearer again after hitting all-time visibility low, scientists say
Scientists say a plate-sized disc used to measure clarity was visible at an average depth of 70.9 feet in 2018, which is an improvement of 10.5 feet from 2017.
Scientists say a plate-sized disc used to measure clarity was visible at an average depth of 70.9 feet in 2018, which is an improvement of 10.5 feet from 2017.

The clarity of Lake Tahoe’s cobalt blue water improved last year from its worst level in a half-century after weather and runoff returned to more normal conditions at the alpine lake straddling the California-Nevada line.

A dinner plate-sized disc used to measure clarity was visible at an average depth of 70.9 feet (21.6 meters) in 2018, scientists at the University of California, Davis, Tahoe Environmental Research Center said Thursday.

That’s an improvement of 10.5 feet (3.2 meters) from 2017 when a winter with unusually heavy snow followed years of drought, sending sediment into the scenic lake known for its pine tree-lined beaches and ski resorts. 

The research center typically releases its annual clarity findings in the spring after analyzing the data it gathers each month in the previous year.

Scientists hope efforts to combat threats to clarity posed by development and climate change will eventually return Lake Tahoe to its historical clear depth of 100 feet (30.5 meters).

Dozens of public and private partners have been working to reduce stormwater pollution from roads and urban areas and restore streams and floodplains to reduce the amount of fine particles and nutrients that can cloud the lake, research center director Geoffrey Schladow said.

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