Human development on the land surrounding Lake Tahoe has had a significant impact on the water quality and lake clarity. Understanding the influence of development and techniques for restoring land use disturbance form an important part of our research. The different research projects related to the Lake Tahoe Basin or watershed examines sources materials that are causing Lake Tahoe to lose clarity in its upper waters. Extremely fine particles, the major contributor to clarity decline, primarily originate from the urban watershed even though these areas cover only 10 percent of the land area. For nitrogen, atmospheric deposition is the major source (55%). Phosphorus is primarily introduced by the urban and non-urban watersheds. These categories of pollutant sources form the basis of a strategy to restore Lake Tahoe's open-water clarity.

Related Research Projects


Approximately every 10 days TERC researchers exchange a bucket atop a large research buoy located near the middle of Lake Tahoe. The bucket is partially filled with deionized water and...more


Our lab group broadly focuses on forest ecology, conservation, ecological genetics, species restoration, and understanding the role and interaction of diseases, insects, fire, drought, and historical disturbances (e.g., fire exclusion...more


Storm-water monitoring projects include efficiency studies on Best Management Practices (BMP's) for controlling urban runoff as well as testing the effectiveness of management activities. Storm water studies are designed to quantify the...more


TERC and USGS researchers visit long-term stream monitoring stations to collect water samples and make measurements throughout the year. The collections are part of the Lake Tahoe...more