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What do Watersheds Matter

TitleWhat do Watersheds Matter
Author/CreatorCobourn, John; Purdy, Shelly; Segale, Heather M.
Related item(s)Press Release available at
Date Original2003-01-16
Summary/DescriptionLake Tahoe Report Segment # 2 - "Your Watershed" (Air Date: May 20, 2003). Juan Palma, Executive Director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, discusses watersheds and their critical role in keeping the environment clean.
SubjectWatershed management -- Tahoe, Lake, Region (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 Digital2004-12-06
RelationRequires Windows Media Player
Resource TypeMoving Image
Contributing InstitutionUniversity of Nevada, Reno
TranscriptionSEGMENT 2: ((Anchor Intro)) Watershed is a word we've used frequently here at News Channel 8. But do you really know what a watershed is and just how critical a healthy watershed can be for a clean environment? Shelly Purdy explains in tonight's "Lake Tahoe Report" segment. PACKAGE: ((Track 1)) Believe it or not, we all live in a watershed. Even if you're looking at dry land... chances are there's water underneath. ((Nat pop - stream)) Watersheds are areas of land that catch rain or snow and drain runoff water into marshes, streams, rivers, lakes or into groundwater. The main watersheds in our area include the Lake Tahoe Basin, the Truckee, Carson, and Walker Rivers. Within the Lake Tahoe Basin alone, there are 64 different sub-watersheds. That includes 63 streams that drain into the lake and 1 river - the Truckee that carries water out. It goes without saying that Lake Tahoe's watershed is unique. There are no factories or other major sources of pollution at Lake Tahoe. So, much of the pollution that is clouding Tahoe's famous clear blue water is coming from us. ((SOT tape 1 @ 14:10 Juan Palma, Executive Director, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency)) "We've cut the roadways. We've cut into the hillsides. We've built homes, businesses and that has really speeded-up how much sedimentation comes to the lake." ((SOT tape 1 @ 28:11 Carl hasty, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency)) "Sediment contains phosphorus. Phosphorus is one of the nutrients that algae needs to produce." ((SOT tape 1 @ 28:11 Carl Hasty continued...)) "So, you add phosphorus and it stimulates growth right away. And that's what sediment can do." ((TRACK 2)) Even something that happens far from the lake that may at the time seem insignificant can still have a big impact on water clarity and water quality. The smallest piece of litter, sediment or other pollutant entering into a stream miles away will eventually in some form make its way to Tahoe. That's how a watershed works. All those peaks and ridgelines you see around Lake Tahoe act like a big bowl -- everything at the top eventually makes its way to the bottom -- right into the lake. ((SOT tape 2 @ 17:10 John Cobourn, Water Resource Specialist, UNR Cooperative Extension)) "This lake could become sort of an average cloudy brownish green lake in our lifetime if we can't somehow prevent the pollution or reduce it." ((TRACK 3)) So whether you live in a Lake Tahoe watershed or not, keep in mind your actions do make a difference. I'm Shelly Purdy for News Channel 8. ((anchor tag/full screen)) If you would like to find out what watershed you live-in or get more information about today's "Lake Tahoe Report" segment visit our website at and click on the XXXXXX icon. In next week's "Lake Tahoe Report" segment, Shelly will explain why a small white plate called a secchi (SEK-EE) disk is such a vital part of the ongoing research at Lake Tahoe.

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