Clearing up Tahoe

New agreement aims to reduce pollutants and increase water clarity

Declining water clarity in Lake Tahoe prompted the signing, by regional governors and a representative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), of a historic agreement to bring the lake’s water visibility back to a more healthful level, according to an EPA press release.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld signed a “roadmap” at the 15th annual Lake Tahoe Summit in mid-August outlining the new Lake Tahoe TMDL (total maximum daily load). The TMDL aims to reduce the lake’s level of pollutants, such as that from stormwater runoff and atmospheric deposits, and hopes to return water clarity to nearly 100 feet over 65 years.

In the 30-year period between 1967 and 1997, water clarity in the lake declined from a visibility level of 105 feet to 65 feet. Research has determined fine particulate matter produced by pollutants is the main cause of the diminishing clarity.