Lake Tahoe water board suggests underwater survey
LAKE TAHOE ” Lake Tahoe’s waters might have another visitor this summer besides the typical tourists ” an autonomous underwater vehicle that would search for evidence of Asian clam infestations.
At its meeting last week, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board approved a recommendation to the California State Water Quality Control Board to fund a $100,000 survey of the Asian clam population of Lake Tahoe.
The $100,000 would cover an autonomous underwater vehicle taking pictures of the bottom of the lake. It would also cover the staff costs of analyzing the data and images. The survey would cover down to 20 meters, said.
“What we need to do is a lakewide survey because we’ve only surveyed the southeast area of the lake,” said Marion Wittmann, a researcher with Tahoe Environmental Research Center who would be heading up the project.
The autonomous underwater vehicle would come from the University of British Columbia and could survey the bottom of the Lake in about two weeks, Wittmann said.
The AUV takes clear picture of the lake’s bottom, allowing researchers to study more areas of the lake. After investigating the photos, Wittmann and her team will go out and take samples of specific areas to further study the clam population.
Because the AUV can take samples of chlorophyll, TERC researchers will also be able to monitor and sense any algal blooms.
The board will also directed staff to continue working on amending its policy that limits the amount of pesticides allowed in waters controlled by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The new language would be clearer and give the board leadway to allow pesticides in certain situations when certain requirements are met, said Dan Sussman, an environmental scientist with Lahontan.
“It will make it less ambiguous and provide the board discretion,” Sussman said.
On the shortest possible timeline the language could be approved by November 2010.
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