Water clarity is the iconic indicator of well-being for Lake Tahoe. In the early 1960s, Lake clarity was measured at over 100 feet, meaning that a person visiting Lake Tahoe at that time could see down 100 feet below the surface! Since then average annual clarity has declined to as low as 65 feet. Fortunately, this decline has stabilized and we are starting to see annual improvements. Average annual clarity is hovering at around 75 feet—better than it’s been in a decade.
Science is still debating the causes of this improvement, but it is generally thought to be associated with the significant investments that have occurred over the last decade in environmental restoration and stormwater treatment systems (known as Best Management Practices or BMPs). Science tells us that 72 percent of the fine particulate polluting Lake Tahoe comes from our old infrastructure, including old roads and buildings that were built before stormwater treatment systems were required. When it comes to protecting the clarity and quality of Lake Tahoe, everyone has a role to play.
What you can do to help protect Lake Tahoe’s famed clarity:
- Install Best Management Practices (BMPs) on any property you own in the Tahoe Basin.
- Switch to non-phosphorus fertilizer. Download the Fertilizer Rack Card for more information.
- Landscape with native plants.
- Park your car and use non-motorized transportation to explore Lake Tahoe.
- Do your doo-ty and pick up after your pets.
- Install an EPA compliant wood stove.
- Clean, drain and dry any watercraft or fishing gear you use in Lake Tahoe in order to protect the Lake from aquatic invasive species.
- Dispose of household chemicals properly. Do NOT pour them into the drain where they can end up polluting Lake Tahoe.
- Purchase a Lake Tahoe License Plate where 96% of the funds go toward environmental restoration projects in the Tahoe Basin.
- Become a volunteer! There are many great opportunities to work on volunteer projects that help protect Lake Tahoe.