Clarity returning to Lake Tahoe |

Clarity returning to Lake Tahoe

Allen Best
Vail, CO Colorado

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. ” Instead of becoming more sullied, Lake Tahoe may be regaining the clarity that Mark Twain 136 years ago described as “a noble sheet of blue … not merely transparent, but dazzlingly, brilliantly so.”

Scientists say the lake’s clarity has actually improved since 2001 ” possibly because land-use restrictions and erosion controls legislated several decades ago have been having an impact, reports the Sacramento Bee.

The findings mark the most encouraging development in 40 years of monitoring the clouding of Lake Tahoe, according to Charles Goldman, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who in the 1960s was the first to foresee Tahoe’s troubles, and then take action its behalf.

“There’s promise in these data that we’ve crossed the line,” Goldman told the Bee.

Tahoe still dazzles as when Mark Twain visited it, notes the Bee, but erosion, construction runoff and air pollution have caused clarity to decline by nearly one-third since 1968, or an average loss of a foot a year.

The $500 million in federal, state and lake funds designated for cleanup in recent years has paid for roadside basins to capture runoff from lakeside highways, a major source of lake pollution.

Scientists were unwilling to say absolutely that the pollution had been reversed. But the seven-year trend is enough to raise hopes of a bluer Tahoe.

HAILEY, Idaho ” Hailey has started work toward reducing its carbon footprint.

The city, located about 10 miles down-valley from Ketchum and Sun Valley, signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement last year. That agreement says participating towns should strive to achieve the principles of the Kyoto Protocol, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2012.

Hailey’s town government has first focused on its internal operations, retrofitting lights at city hall, installing programmable thermostats in all city buildings, and encouraging more car-pooling and mass transit by employees. An emissions inventory conducted by the city finds a 3.3 percent decrease from 2005 to 2007.

The inventory showed that a major user of electricity is the wastewater treatment plan. Pumping of water is also a major consumer of electricity. The Idaho Mountain Express says town officials hope that limiting lawn irrigation to two days a week will reduce pumping costs and hence the community’s carbon footprint.

Apparently still unaddressed is the broader community footprint, such as is the focus of inventories conducted in the last several years in Aspen, Jackson Hole and now other ski towns and resort valleys.

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