Turbidity is a measure of water’s clarity, and this standard establishes a goal for clarity near stream mouths. The nearshore represents an important socio-economic value because this is where most visitors and residents experience the lake first-hand. Turbidity in the nearshore is influenced by many factors including wave action, algae, and discharge from streams, especially during storms. Projects and programs that reduce pollutant and sediment loading to the lake are also likely to improve nearshore clarity.  


Nearshore Turbidity.JPG
Distribution of section average values obtained from individual nearshore clarity circuits at a seven meter depth (23 ft.) completed using equivalent methods since 2001. Survey re listed in chronological order on the x-axis (mm/yyyy format). Survey dates are non-continuous. The blue line follows median values from each circuit represented by quartile boxplots, with whiskers to outermost data points within 1.5 times the interquartile range.

2019 Evaluation

At or Somewhat Better Than Target
Little or No Change
View Evaluation

Applicable Standard

WQ3: Attain turbidity values not to exceed three NTU.

Key Points

  • Tahoe's nearshore waters, similar to its deep lake waters, are incredibly clear. Scientists have suggested the need to better understand the drivers of nearshore clarity. Recent investment by TRPA and partners has focused on improving our understanding to both target management to improve clarity and identify appropriate goals for nearshore clarity.
  • In 2014, UC Davis began deploying a network of sensors that continuously monitor nearshore conditions (chlorophyll, dissolved organic matter, wave height, temperature, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen). Preliminary findings suggest that nearshore clarity is primarily influenced by wind and wave height.
  • During high wind events, nearshore sediments are resuspended in the water column, and decrease the clarity of the water, until the wind speed and wave height are reduced.