As we’ve discussed before, Lake Tahoe gets a lot of attention from both Nevada and California regarding water quality.
Tahoe’s clarity – measured by the depth at which a white disk can be seen from the surface – is the standard used to gauge the alpine lake’s health. But the measurement is taken near the middle, not the shore, painting an incomplete picture of Tahoe’s true health.
But that’s about to change, according to an article from the Nevada Appeal, when the Desert Research Institute (DRI) launches a boat that will collect new water quality data. Thanks to new funding, DRI will conduct regular testing in shallow water environments around Lake Tahoe for the next three years.
“This will give us an idea of what areas of the lake are threatened, what are the hot spots,” DRI staff scientist Brian Fitzgerald told the Nevada Appeal.
The group is using a jet-powered craft, which can go into shallower water than a prop-driven boat, according to the article, and can take continuous readings as it moves along the lakeshore.
The DRI boat will take water quality measurements including turbidity, translucidity and chlorophyll content, all components of clarity.
As explained in the article, this new data should give scientists a much better handle on what impacts Tahoe’s clarity, as the majority of clarity-reducing pollutants enter the lake as runoff in these shallower zones.
“The near-shore is where it happens,” Fitzgerald said to the Nevada Appeal. “It’s where the interactions are, where the sediment is coming in.”
The study should identify the most impacted areas, allowing cleanup efforts to be focused in the right places to improve water quality and clarity.
We’re interested in following the results of this study, to see what the near-shore water quality monitoring does beyond the already-successful measures taken in the past to bring back Lake Tahoe’s legendary clear waters.