Story at a glance

  • Lake Tahoe’s water levels plummeted below its natural rim last week due to drought and climate change.
  • The UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center said the water levels had receded six days earlier than the center had predicted.
  • The water level is reportedly so low, water is no longer flowing into the Truckee River, which could prevent its salmon from spawning.

Lake Tahoe’s water levels plummeted below its natural rim last week due to drought and climate change, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

The UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) said the water levels had receded six days earlier than the center had predicted.

“In one 36-hour period, the lake level fell by 1.2 inches due to evaporation,” TERC told the Tahoe Daily Tribune in an email. “This is almost four times the annual evaporation rate of about 72 inches per year.”


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The water level is reportedly so low, water is no longer flowing into the Truckee River, which could prevent its salmon from spawning. Going into the winter season, when snowfall and precipitation will add water back into the lake, Lake Tahoe could stand to lose 4 million to 6 million gallons of water per week.

“That’s not a drop in the bucket,” TERC said, adding, “next year the lake will fall below the natural rim much sooner and likely stay there for most of 2022.”


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Published on Oct 18, 2021