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Lake Tahoe Saw Clarity Drop, Surface Temperature Rise In 2017

The University of California, Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center has released its 2017 State of the Lake Report for Lake Tahoe.

The report showed a dramatic decrease in Tahoe's clarity as well as record high average surface temperatures. 

During 2017, Tahoe’s average annual clarity dropped to a record low average depth of 59.7 feet — a 9.5-foot decrease from 2016 and the lowest value ever recorded at Lake Tahoe. 

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The Nevada Appeal reports that the survey attributes the decrease in clarity to the end of a five-year drought followed by a winter of record-high precipitation. 

More sediment washed into the lake in 2017 than in the previous five years combined. 

Clarity readings from the first part of 2018 have shown levels are back in the normal range, according to the report, suggesting 2017 was an outlier.

Federal and state regulators have targeted 97.4 feet as the lake's clarity restoration goal. 

In all but one month of 2017, air temperatures were higher than average for 1910 to 2017, while Lake Tahoe's average surface water temperature for the year was 53.0 degrees compared to 50.3 degrees in 1968.