Lake Tahoe On West Coast

An Introduction Lake Tahoe is the pristine jewel of the West Coast, known around
the world for its beauty. The Lake Tahoe area was even in the spotlight for the
winter Olympic Games at Squaw Valley in 60's. Over the decades we have learned,
by mistake, what needs to be done to protect the lakes' beauty and character.

The lake is foremost known for its color and clarity, and has been capitalized
on for these qualities. However, upon enjoying the lake and creating a tourist
and recreational draw we have jeopardized the lake for all the features that we
most enjoy and treasure. Simply put the clarity, color and beauty of the lake
are in trouble, and the transparency is decreasing at a frightening rate. The
build up of phosphorous and nitrates in the lake has promoted the growth of
algae that clouds the water, changing the famous aqua, sapphire blue color to a
murky, cloudy green. Let's take a look at why we should be concerned with the
declining clarity of a lake, and why this lake is so special and unique, and why
the surrounding environment is so important. There are many factors involved in
causing the decline briefly discussed in this paper; including soil erosion, air
quality/pollution, stream conditions which are water flow, and algae growth.

Concluding with some positive measures that will help the lake over the long
term. Lake Tahoe -- History In exploring what makes this lake unique and special
we must first explore where it is, how it got there, and it's aquatic makeup.

Lake Tahoe known only to the Paiute Indians until it was "discovered"
by General Fremont in 1844. The Lake's exceptional transparency was described by

Mark Twain as "the finest picture earth affords." The lake is over a
mile high and is nestled amongst the Sierra Nevada, snowcapped, mountain range.

Lake Tahoe is uniquely divided between two states, Nevada and California, which
presents difficulties in long-term studies, developmental controls, and
protection goals.(See figure one) The Tahoe Basin has many political arms
wrapped around it , often with overlapping jurisdiction, including the Federal

Government, two States, five Counties, and a City. One example of this problem
is the fact that: "Lake Tahoe is designated as an Outstanding National

Resource Water (ONRW) under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Water Quality

Standards Program and the Clean Water Act. With this designation, Lake Tahoe is
provided the highest level of protection under the antidegradation policy and no
further degradation should be permitted. The state of California recognizes this
designation, while Nevada does not."(1:1) The one fact that everyone seems
to agree on is Lake Tahoe needs its purity protected and preserved. Contrary to
the belief that the lake was formed by a volcanic crater collapse; the lake
actually, was formed by the rise and fall of the landscape due to faulting. The

Sierra Nevada is a batholith, "an enormous, complex masses of solidified
magma, usually granite .... composed of many individual plutons that push aside
some of the rocks of the crust while melting and digesting others" (2:403).

This pushing aside and uplifting formed a "deep graben fault basin"
(3:42). The lake has a surface area of 193 square miles (122,200 acres); a depth
of 1,645 feet at maximum and 989 feet at average; a surface temperature of 68?F
maximum and 41?F minimum; a capacity of 122,160,280 acre-feet of water; a
length of 22 miles and width of 12 miles; a surface elevation of 6,229 feet
above sea level; and a shoreline of 71 miles, divided into 42 miles in

California and 29 miles in Nevada. Lake Tahoe's great depth makes it the third
largest in North America and the tenth deepest in the World, rivaled by such
lakes as Oregon's Crater Lake and Russia's Lake Baikal(3:42,4:1,5:2,6:87).
"Lake Tahoe is as long as the English Channel is wide. The Panama Canal,

700 ft wide and 50 ft Deep, could be filled with Lake Tahoe's water even if it
circled the globe, at the equator, and there would still be enough water left to
fill a canal of the same size running from San Francisco to New York."
(3:1) The altitude of the area and freezing mountains would cause one to think
the lake would freeze over, however, the tremendous depth prevents the lake from
freezing. The theory of convection is proven here; the volume is always in
motion, as the surface cools it gets heavier and sinks, and the warmer, deeper,
water is lighter and rises, mixing with the cool water and thus the lake does
not freeze over. Some inlets,