A team of scuba divers swam 38 miles off the Lake Tahoe shoreline to collect thousands of pounds of trash under the surface of the water. The group, run by a nonprofit called Clean Up the Lake, aims to swim and pick up trash along the entire 72-mile perimeter of Lake Tahoe.
The underwater cleanup of Lake Tahoe began on the east coast of Tahoe in May last year. And before that, in the summer of 2020, the divers held a series of rubbish-picking dives in South Lake Tahoe. According to a press release, divers have now counted around 9,281 pieces of garbage that they have collected from the depths of Tahoe. In total, the garbage collected weighed 8,122 pounds.
Among their finds: shredded tires, golf balls, tennis balls, a plastic snorkel, fishing nets, glass bottles, aluminum cans, telephones, red solo cups, tennis shoes and broken glass.
Microplastic pollution is a growing problem in Lake Tahoe, according to the latest State of the Lake report from the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. A significant amount of microplastic pollution is found near the shore where divers are doing their cleanup. One of the most egregious examples of plastic pollution in Tahoe occurred in the summer when thousands of tiny white plastic balls were washed into the lake; the plastic balls that came from inside a broken pool toy.
Clean Up the Lake hoped to complete their circumnavigation of Lake Tahoe before winter, but the challenging summer Tahoe experienced – in August, many of the divers were evacuated from their homes during the Caldor Fire – reset the schedule. However, by November, divers from Clean Up the Lake had reached the west coast of Tahoe. You have to swim 29 miles before completing the mission.
Colin West, founder of Clean Up the Lake, told the San Francisco Chronicle (SFGATE and the San Francisco Chronicle are both owned by Hearst but operate independently) that the group intends to dive well into well into winter To collect garbage. The project is funded in part by a matching $ 100,000 donation from Tahoe Blue Vodka and donations from a philanthropy group called the Tahoe Fund and Vail Resorts. The group also receives funding from the Nevada Division of State Lands Lake Tahoe License Plate program.