USGS launches key study to examine increased algae growth in Lake Tahoe

The U.S. Geological Survey and University of Nevada, Reno, will study the cause of eutrophication, or increased algae growth, along the nearshore of Lake Tahoe in California.

LAKE TAHOE, NV, Aug. 17, 2015 -- The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and University of Nevada, Reno, will study the cause of eutrophication, or increased algae growth, along the nearshore of Lake Tahoe. Supported by California's Lahontan Water Quality Control Board (LWQCB), the investigation is in response to widespread concerns with water quality and ecological degradation of the lake's nearshore environment.

Over the last decade, nearshore periphyton growth, a form of algae, has increased dramatically in Lake Tahoe. The lake's fragile environment continues to be threatened by a changing climate and an introduction of invasive species. The study will investigate the relationship between algae growth and sources of nutrients on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, north of Ward Creek.

The investigation is a key component of LWQCB's Lake Tahoe Nearshore Water Quality Protection Plan. The plan was released in 2014 to help guide management of the lake and establish nearshore water quality protection policies. The 10-month algae study will sample nutrient concentrations and other important chemical and physical parameters at five sections of the lake. The findings will be used to distinguish whether elevated nutrient concentrations are from Ward Creek spring runoff, other on-shore locations, groundwater, or lake upwelling.

This effort to help protect the Lake Tahoe nearshore environment is being funded with $200,000 from LWQCB and $200,000 from the USGS in matching federal funds. The USGS and the University of Nevada, Reno, will produce a final report of the findings in the summer of 2017.

See also:

"USGS, EPA, Blue Legacy announce winners of Visualizing Nutrients Challenge"

"New online USGS tool tracks nutrients, sediment in waterways across nation"

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