Science | May 14, 2022 5:18 pm

Cleanup Efforts in Lake Tahoe Removed an Alarming Amount of Waste

There's even more waiting to be removed

Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe's a bit cleaner than it once was.
Nagaraju.ramanna - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Situated on the border between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is known for its remarkable views and its entrancing landscapes. It’s a region that draws numerous visitors each year, and when you look at images of the place or read about the attractions to be found on or near the lake itself, it’s not hard to see why.

One local scuba diver set a program in motion last year to clean up the lake. That would be Colin West, who began his work on the project in May of 2021. A new article at the Los Angeles Times documents the results of West’s effort, which may well inspire parallel reactions. The first is that the work that West set in motion is thoroughly laudable; the second is along the lines of, “They pulled out how much waste?”

According to the article, West established a nonprofit and got to work. He and his cohorts — 136 volunteers and six staff members — removed over 25,000 pounds of waste. West told the Times that this included “over 4,500 different aluminum cans, more than 280 different pairs of sunglasses, cellphones and plastic bottles.”

Mind you, the 25,000 pounds was just what West and the other divers were able to carry out. Some larger objects — including parts of boats and lampposts — were marked for subsequent recovery. West also saw what looked like engagement rings at the bottom of the lake, which suggests some stories waiting to be told.

Up next for West and his organization is another lake nearby — Fallen Leaf Lake. One can only imagine what they’ll find in there.