American Scuba Divers Remove 11+ Tonnes Of Trash From Lake Tahoe

Aug 29, 2022by Olivia - F&F

Californian non-profit, Clean Up The Lake, has completed a year-long effort to clean up Lake Tahoe — removing 24,797 pieces of litter in total!

Clean Up The Lake Colin WestClean Up The Lake Colin West

Image: @cleanupthelake / Instagram

Clean Up The Lake Initiative Completes Year-Long Clean-Up Effort

Lake Tahoe — located between California and Nevada — is one of the purest lakes in the world. But, until recently, the bottom of the lake was inundated with debris. That’s why in May 2021, Clean Up The Lake commenced an ambitious Lake Tahoe clean-up project!

Over 81 days, 136 volunteer scuba divers removed more than 11 tonnes of debris from Lake Tahoe. The scuba divers dedicated 6,715 hours to clean up 115 kilometres of Lake Tahoe’s shoreline. The scuba divers dove more than 7 metres below the water’s surface to collect debris. 

“It’s crazy. We had 80 different days on the lake, and I’d say every 2-3 days we would almost fill a 10 to 12-foot travel trailer full of litter,” said founder of Clean Up The Lake, Colin West.

Clean Up The Lake Scuba DiversClean Up The Lake Scuba Divers

Image: @cleanupthelake / Instagram

What Debris Did The Scuba Divers Find In Lake Tahoe?

So, what sort of debris did the scuba divers find? Well, they found a bit of everything! Out of the 24,797 items removed from the lake, the team found 4,527 aluminium cans, 295 pairs of sunglasses, 171 tires and 127 boat anchors.

They also found plenty of plastic bottles, large pieces of boats, lamp posts, and some rather unusual items — including Nikon cameras from the 1980s, wallets, and even engagement rings!

“While the dive team has removed many expected and unexpected items along the way, ultimately what we hope people remember is the length that one group of individuals was willing to go to in order to protect their home and their planet — and in turn — people should ask themselves how sre they helping to preserve our environment today,” said Colin.

Clean Up The Lake TeamClean Up The Lake Team

Image: @cleanupthelake / Instagram

Permanent Art Sculpture Will Be Crafted From Underwater Debris!

Thanks to a commissioned sculpture made from Lake Tahoe’s underwater debris, locals will be able to reflect upon the massive clean-up effort and the volunteers who made it possible! The sculpture, aptly named “Surfaced”, was commissioned by the Tahoe Fund, and will take the form of an endangered species that is native to Lake Tahoe. 

“By creating a permanent art sculpture at this wonderful location with some of what was recovered from the lake, our hope is that it will inspire greater environmental stewardship and remind those who love Lake Tahoe that it’s up to all of us to take care of it,” said Tahoe Fund CEO, Amy Berry.

Clean Up The Lake is set to perform clean-ups across 4 lakes this year, made possible by a group of generous sponsors.

How amazing is this story? The Clean Up The Lake volunteer scuba divers have achieved so much in such a short period of time. Over the past year, they’ve braved the freezing cold weather and a myriad of challenges to reverse decades of damage and preserve their gorgeous local environment. Super inspiring! 

If you love hearing about global clean-up initiatives as much as we do, head over to our Eco News category for more!

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