Scuba divers removed nearly 200 pounds of garbage from Lake Tahoe, California, on Friday, as part of a six-month effort to rid the popular lake of fishing rods, tires, aluminum cans, beer bottles and other trash accumulated underwater.
The team plans to search for litter along 72 miles (115 km) of shoreline in an endeavor that could be the largest clean-up of litter in the lake’s history, said Colin West, diver and film director who founded Clean Up the Lake, the nonprofit front and center. The project.
“We are still learning not to be that extravagant. But unfortunately, as a species we still are, and there are a lot of things out there,” West said after completing the first dive.
He explained that the team collected about 200 pounds (90 kg) of garbage during their first session, and found 20 large or heavy items, including buckets full of cement and car bumpers, which would later have to be recovered by a boat with a crane.
They plan to dive three days a week to a depth of 25 feet (7 meters). The clean-up effort will cost $ 250,000, which the nonprofit has raised through grants, and will run through November.
West started doing beach cleanups along the lake after visiting Belize and seeing the beaches there filled with litter. But in 2018, after a diver friend told him he and others had collected 600 pounds (272 kg) of rubbish from the water on Tahoe’s eastern shore, he decided to focus on the litter in the water.
“I was dumbfounded,” said West, who lives in Stateline, Nevada. “We started looking and going under the roof and kept collecting trash and a lot more trash.”
In a dive survey in September 2019, his team removed more than 300 pounds (136 kg) of debris from the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe and planned to launch a cleanup along the shoreline last year. The pandemic delayed those plans.
But the volunteer group, which also includes up to 10 divers as well as support crew on kayaks, boats and jet skis, continued to dive and clean Lake Tahoe and nearby Donner Lake. By the end of last summer, they had collected more than four tons of garbage from both lakes.