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Lake Tahoe’s large volume, relatively small watershed to the lake and the surrounding geology are the primary reasons for its naturally clear waters.
Urbanization of the Tahoe Basin has eliminated 75 percent of its marshes, 50 percent of its meadows and 35 percent of its steam zone habitats.
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The lowest average depth on record was 64.1’ in 1997.
In 2008, UC Davis reported that data since 2001 suggested lake clarity was not declining as fast as it had been.
Natural rim: 6,223 ft Length: 22 miles Width: 12 miles Surface Area: 192 square miles Shoreline: 72 miles Average Depth: 1,000 ft Maximum Depth: 1,644 ft Volume: 41 trillion gallons Watershed Area: 314 sq. Average water temperature: 42.1º Average surface water temp: 51.9º Average surface temp in July: 64.9º Highest Peak: Freel Peak at 10,881’ Average snowfall: 409” Age of Lake Tahoe: 2 million years Lake Tahoe, at 1,644’ deep, is the second deepest lake in the U. Roughly 2 to 3 million years ago, erupting volcanoes blocked the outlet, forcing the lake to rise hundreds of feet above its current elevation, and eventually eroding down to near its current outlet.
Between 7,000 and 15,000 years ago, a 4-mile segment of the West Shore collapsed into the Lake causing a massive submerged debris avalanche, widening the Lake by 3 miles and creating Mc Kinney Bay.1 The Tahoe Basin is mostly granite, with little topsoil, and therefore few nutrients have washed into the lake to promote the growth of algae and other organisms that make water murky.
The annual Secchi depth is comprised of about 25 readings throughout the year.
The waters of Lake Tahoe were clear to an average depth of 73.1’ in 2015.
About 1,500 members of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California live on tribal lands known as “colonies” scattered in the Reno, Carson Valley and Gardnerville areas of Nevada and in Woodfords in California.
An active tribal government continues to lobby for a land base in the Lake Tahoe Basin.