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Archive for November, 2014

Lake Tahoe Water Quality Management
November 6th, 2014 by Sherwood

This post is authored by Sherwood blogging intern, and UC Davis Graduate student, Heather Sprague.

Lake TahoeDespite what the beautiful picture to the left may imply, this is not a blog about my summer vacation. I have the pleasure of conducting research on Lake Tahoe for my Master’s thesis at UC Davis. My group is under the Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC), which you may remember from Jessica’s post about volunteering at our Children’s Environmental Science Day! Though my project focuses more on physical processes within the lake, I am also interested in the water quality management practices in the basin. The watershed that drains into Lake Tahoe is quite small compared to the size of the lake. In fact, the watershed only encompasses about 500 square miles – an area less than three times larger than the surface area of the lake itself. Tahoe’s famous clarity is a result of this unique hydrologic system and the fact that over 78% of the watershed area is publicly managed forest land. It is the developed region around the lake that has contributed to the decline of water clarity in the last fifty years (see graph below). It is thus our duty to better manage runoff in this area in order to protect the pristine nature of the lake. Doing so, however, has proven to be a difficult task, especially in the midst of the current drought.