Woman on boat during Lake Tahoe cleanup

Divers complete underwater clean-up of Lake Tahoe’s east shore; 72-mile effort continues…

INCLINE VILLAGE, – An extraordinary effort to recover thousands of pounds of trash around all 72-miles of Lake Tahoe’s shoreline has reached its first significant milestone. A SCUBA dive team of professionals and volunteers spearheaded by the nonprofit Clean Up The Lake have completed the underwater clean-up of Lake Tahoe’s east shore, removing 9,281 pieces of trash weighing a collective 8,122 pounds.

This effort was made possible with a $100K donation from the project’s presenting sponsor Tahoe Blue Vodka, 135 Tahoe Fund donors including Vail Resorts, and other grant giving foundations.

“Some of the trashiest spots we’ve cleaned so far include areas like Deadman’s Point full of boat wrecks…”

Colin West, Clean Up The Lake founder

So far, divers have covered 22.55 miles of shoreline since beginning the clean-up effort at Edgewood on Lake Tahoe’s south shore May 14. While the majority of waste has consisted of plastics that break apart over time and impact the lake’s aquatic species, bottles, cans, golf balls, tennis balls and other items have also been found. Some of the most unique items recovered have included an Incline Village property owner’s ID card from the late 1970s, a rubber snake, a geocache box that was last found three years ago by another volunteer diver, and a radio walkman that connected to a belt buckle.

Woman on jet ski collecting trash from Lake Tahoe

Passionate about Lake Tahoe

“Our team of professional and volunteer divers have been out as much as possible to keep our effort on track. To date, we’ve completed 27 dive days,” said Colin West, Clean Up The Lake founder and executive director. “Some of the trashiest spots we’ve cleaned so far include areas like Deadman’s Point full of boat wrecks broken into hundreds of pieces, parts of East Shore where people tend to frequent and the rocks near the shoreline collect aluminum cans, plastic bottles & other trash that gets stuck in the rocks for decades. We anticipate there will be so much more to learn about the way the trash is being distributed underneath the surface of Tahoe as we continue to make our way around the lake the rest of this year.”

“The sheer volume of trash that has been recovered in just this first stretch of shoreline is incredible,” said Matt Levitt, Founder of Tahoe Blue Vodka, whose award-winning spirit is made from the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe. “Every time I’m out diving with the team, I’m moved by the value and impact of this unprecedented clean-up effort. I hope it serves to raise awareness about the negative impact trash can have on the lake and the ecosystems that inhabit it. From day one, a portion of proceeds from Tahoe Blue Vodka have gone to support the ongoing efforts of organizations that work to protect the magnificent Lake Tahoe for future generations to enjoy.”

The work continues…

Divers will continue the clean-up throughout the summer and fall, and expect to complete the effort in November 2021, weather and conditions permitting.

“Supporting projects like this is core to our mission. It’s astounding how much trash has already been surfaced in such a short distance, and it’s clear that by the time this effort concludes, the positive impact to Lake Tahoe will be significant,” said Allen Biaggi, Tahoe Fund board chair. “This effort truly wouldn’t have been possible without the tremendous support of the individual and corporate donors who generously contributed to make it happen.”

The project was funded by contributions raised by the Tahoe Fund from more than 135 businesses and people who donated to the cause, including an initial $100,000 match offered by Tahoe Blue Vodka. Additional funding support came from Vail Resorts, the Nevada Division of State Lands Lake Tahoe License Plate program and other grant-giving foundations.

Learn more about the project and how to volunteer on dives at www.tahoefund.org.