Lake Ta­hoe wa­ter level is close to limit

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - News -

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Lake Ta­hoe is the fullest it’s been in nearly two decades.

Of­fi­cials say the alpine lake on the Cal­i­for­nia-Ne­vada line is ap­proach­ing the le­gal limit af­ter snowmelt from a stormy win­ter left enough wa­ter to po­ten­tially last through three sum­mers of drought.

For three weeks, Ta­hoe has been within an inch of its max­i­mum al­lowed sur­face el­e­va­tion of 6,229.1 feet above sea level,

It crept to within a halfinch ear­lier this week.

Chad Blan­chard, a fed­eral wa­ter master in Reno re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing the wa­ter, told the Reno Gazette Jour­nal it’s the long­est he’s seen the lake stay that high for so long.

“This is a rare year,” he said. “I’ve been do­ing this for 26 years, and we’ve had big (snow) years, but this one is unique as far as be­ing up within an inch of be­ing full and it’s just hang­ing there. ... It’s a prod­uct of still hav­ing so much snow up there.”

Lake Ta­hoe, the sec­ond-deep­est lake in the U.S. at about 1,645 feet, typ­i­cally holds enough wa­ter to cover the en­tire state of Cal­i­for­nia with 14 inches of the wet stuff.

Only Ore­gon’s Crater Lake is deeper.

As win­ter snow con­tin­ues to melt from moun­tain tops and into Ta­hoe, the rate of sum­mer­time sur­face evap­o­ra­tion is be­gin­ning to pick up.

Blan­chard says the lake soon will reach a point of equi­lib­rium when snowmelt slows and the rate of evap­o­ra­tion in­creases. Then, the lake level will be­gin to drop.

“What it means go­ing for­ward is a good wa­ter sup­ply for three years,” he said.

The le­gal limit of the lake plays a role in de­ter­min­ing if, when and how much wa­ter is spilled into the Truc­kee River at a dam in Ta­hoe City, Cal­i­for­nia.


News San Jose Mer­cury re­ported the lake level has risen eight feet since the be­gin­ning of 2016, when it hit a low point dur­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s five-year drought.

This sum­mer will be the third time in the past three years that the lake has come up to the edge of its le­gal limit. That pre­vi­ously hap­pened in 1998, 1999 and 2000.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Cy­clists ride on the Ta­hoe East Shore Trail near Glen­brook, Ne­vada. Wa­ter stored at Lake Ta­hoe has nearly reached its le­gal limit af­ter snowmelt from a stormy win­ter left be­hind enough to po­ten­tially last through up to three sum­mers of drought.

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