The clarity of Lake Tahoe is 5-feet less than last year.
But researchers at UC Davis say such fluctuation is normal. In fact, clarity can vary 20 to 30 feet depending on where and when its measured. The long-term trend is that the lake’s clarity is remaining stabile. Geoffrey Schladow of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center says one reason this year is the drought. Less rain means less runoff taking less pollution into the lake.
“And so I guess if we are looking for any bright sides to the drought, its the fact that it helps clarity.”
While the average year-round clarity is stabilizing, researchers say summer clarity continues to decline. A more in-depth assessment is expected in the State of the Lake Report due out in August. It will include data from a new storm water monitoring system installed last year to help researchers determine if restoration efforts are working.
Schladow says, rather than previous steep declines, the lake’s clarity continues to hover between 64 and 78 feet, as it has for the past 15 years.
“I think in large part that is a reflection of the activities and the investment and it has taken a lot of money to achieve this. It has taken a lot of money from the federal government, state government and even private funding.”
Conservation groups say continued funding to improve the lake’s clarity is dependent on congressional approval of the $415 million Lake Tahoe Restoration Act. It passed the Senate in early February, but it is not yet scheduled for a vote in the House.
Squaw Valley Ski Resort, Liberty Utilities and Tesla are hoping to use renewable batteries as a backup power source for the resort and surrounding homes.
Summertime is a favorite for tourists at Lake Tahoe, but the region's transportation system is not designed for the growing number of people who use it. The TRPA and TERC are coming up with a plan to fix the gridlock and improve the lake's clarity.
A waste management agency in South Lake Tahoe has started offering homeowners loans to buy bear-proof garbage bins. It's an effort to reduce conflicts with the animals who wander into neighborhoods in search of food.
It looks like this year's fire season will start later than normal in the Tahoe area...sometime in July-August rather than the typical May-June time frame. That's because of the wet winter and a snowpack 200 to 300 percent of normal.
Homes and businesses in Truckee and Lake Tahoe are under several feet of snow.