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Why is Lake Tahoe Blue?

TitleWhy is Lake Tahoe Blue?
Author/CreatorCobourn, John; Purdy, Shelly; Segale, Heather M.
Related item(s)Press Release available at
Date Original2004-09-14
Summary/DescriptionLake Tahoe Report Segment #84 - "New Clarity Data" (Air Date: September 14, 2004). Bob Richards from the Tahoe Research Group discusses the loss of clarity over the years in the Tahoe basin, which is occuring at over one foot per year.
SubjectWater quality -- Tahoe, Lake (Calif. and Nev.)
LocationLake Tahoe (Calif. and Nev.)
Tahoe, Lake (Calif. and Nev.)
CollectionThe Lake Tahoe Report
Original PublisherLake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition (
Electronic PublisherUniversity of Nevada, Reno - Department of Teaching and Learning Technologies
Ordering and Permissions InformationFor more information, contact the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, or 775-832-4138.
Date Digital2005-03-14
RelationRequires Windows Media Player
Resource TypeMoving Image
Contributing InstitutionUniversity of Nevada, Reno
TranscriptionSegment 84: Clarity Data Air Date: September 14, 2004 Tease @ 11:40 "New clarity data about Lake Tahoe is out. I'm Shelly Purdy, I'll have details in the Lake Tahoe Report." Anchor Intro: Each week in our Lake Tahoe Report series, the overriding theme to every story is the clarity and quality of water in Lake Tahoe. So, how is the lake doing? In tonight's Lake Tahoe Report, Shelly Purdy takes a look at the very latest clarity data. ((Take pkg)) ((Track 1)) On a day like this, Lake Tahoe looks perfect…blue water, glistening sunshine…it doesn't get much better than this. But the reality of what's happening to Lake Tahoe isn't as pretty a picture. ((sot @ 3:52 Bob Richards, Tahoe Research Group)) "The overall long term trend still shows a loss of clarity in the lake and the rate of loss seems to be tailing off a bit, so we're not losing the clarity at such a great rate as we were earlier, but it's still unfortunately in the wrong direction. We're still losing clarity in the lake at a rate of about a foot a year. ((track 2)) Throughout the year, every year for the past several decades, Tahoe's clarity has been measured using a secchi disk. The secchi disk readings are used to calculate the level of clarity in the water each year. Over the past few years, the rate of loss in clarity has slowed. ((sot @ 2:28)) "We've had many many years of drought and the drought seems to correlate well with a reduction in the amount of materials that come into the lake through erosion, runoff, snow melt and rain. And when that happens there's less food for algae to grow and when there's less algae the clarity does increase." ((s/u @ 10:52 Shelly Purdy)) "Though the clarity data does show improvement over the last few years, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done." (sot@ 6:35)) "What you have to realize is Tahoe responds very slowly to both negative and positive imputs to it. So, it will take many many years for us to see a turnaround in the clarity." ((track 3)) The good news is there are many agencies and organizations here at Tahoe dedicated to keeping this lake clear and blue. The hope is in the long run their efforts will make a difference. With the Lake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition, I'm Shelly Purdy for KOLO NC8. Anchor Tag: Researchers from U.C. Davis have been taking secchi disk readings at Lake Tahoe since 1968.

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