|DRI Demonstrates Lake Tahoe Research to Senator Heller|
The 2012 Lake Tahoe Summit provided an opportunity for Desert Research Institute (DRI) reaseachers to demonstrate to Sen. Dean Heller the methods they use to study changes in water clarity and invasive species.
DRI operates a 21-foot jet boat, the Research Vessel (R.V.) Mt. Rose, to support near shore research at Lake Tahoe. Without a propeller and with its shallow draft, the R.V. Mt. Rose is an ideal platform for studying changes in water clarity and other important near shore characteristics in the shallow areas of the lake.
The R.V. Mt. Rose is currently equipped with several sensors that assess water quality conditions, including turbidity, transmissivity, and chlorophyll. A customized system is used for navigation and the real-time display of sensor data. Water samples are also collected for routine analyses and calibrations.
The R.V. Mt. Rose took the senator on an early morning tour that consisted of a demonstration of near shore water quality monitoring near Edgewood Creek and a discussion of current near shore conditions. The tour also visited a non-native Asian clam bed (Cobicula fluminea) located offshore of Nevada Beach with commentary by Dr. Sudeep Chandra from the University of Nevada, Reno and Dr. Rick Susfalk from DRI.
“I think this is a good example of how science can contribute to practical and cost-effective assessment of results from management actions,” said Dr. Alan Heyvaert of DRI, who participated in the Summit. “We were able to demonstrate to the senator various scientific methods we use and he seemed very interested in the work we are doing at Lake Tahoe.”
Lake Tahoe’s near shore environment is where most visitors and residents directly experience the lake, whether hiking, camping, boating or kayaking. It is also where human impacts and surface water runoff effects are often the greatest. For these reasons, near shore water quality and aesthetics are of increasing concern to scientists and regulators in the Tahoe Basin. The near shore is easily degraded by many factors such as urban stormwater runoff and the spread of aquatic invasive species (e.g., Eurasian watermilfoil and Asian clam). This degradation is readily visible in the shallow near shore water and it negatively influences the public’s perception of lake conditions.
Scientists at DRI are working collaboratively with Tahoe Basin agency staff and with fellow researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the University of California, Davis, to develop the scientific tools needed for reliable near shore assessment and evaluation. This will help in tracking the near shore response to continued implementation of the Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program.
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