On July 8, 2021, the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency released findings from the annual Lake Tahoe Clarity Report, which showed average clarity – or how deep a 10” white plate can be lowered into Lake Tahoe before it becomes invisible from the surface – of 62.9 feet for the year 2020.
2020’s annual average tracks closely with measurements from the past decade, illustrating that the League’s efforts to arrest the steep downward trend in clarity loss from the 2000s have been successful. On the flip side of the coin, clarity is still declining, meaning major progress is needed to Keep Tahoe Blue.
The following is a statement regarding the 2020 Lake Tahoe Clarity Report from League to Save Lake Tahoe CEO, Darcie Goodman Collins, Ph.D.:
“The latest Clarity Report shows us once again that we need to take bold action to slow climate change’s negative impact on Lake Tahoe’s clarity, ecology and natural beauty.
Tahoe’s surface waters are getting warmer, acting like a seal that prevents mixing between layers in the Lake’s water column. So when fine-grained particles of dirt and pavement from overused roads flow into the Lake during a rainstorm, they get trapped near the surface, hurting the Lake’s clarity. Warm, nutrient-filled waters are also the perfect habitat for harmful aquatic invasive species to spread.
If Tahoe was untouched by humans, the Lake’s natural pollution filters – its marshes, meadows and wetlands – would strip those fine-grained particles out of the water before reaching the Lake. But decades of short-sighted development paved over those natural filters. And Tahoe’s roads are constantly bombarded with traffic, chewing up the pavement into fine particles that enter the Lake as stormwater pollution.
To Keep Tahoe Blue – and therefore clear – the League is working across the public and private sector to:
restore Tahoe’s wetlands to revitalize their natural pollution-fighting function and build Tahoe’s resilience to climate change;
put aquatic invasive species in check, so Tahoe’s shallows don’t turn into a murky, green mess;
repair, repave or replace Tahoe’s ailing roads with modern infrastructure on a Basin-wide scale; and
create transportation solutions in Tahoe to break the dependence on private car travel and stop stormwater pollution before it starts.
For future generations to enjoy a clean, clear Lake Tahoe, business-as-usual will not deliver. The League is pushing for the dollars, political will and innovative ideas to turn these plans into action.
We can overcome these challenges. Join us, and together, we will Keep Tahoe Blue.”
Photo: Peter Spain Photography