Largest underwater cleanup of Lake Tahoe to begin in ’20

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LAKE TAHOE (KRON)  –  The world’s largest landfill floats as a garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean. But even beyond our Earth’s oceans, lakes, like crystal-blue Lake Tahoe, are also on the decline because of plastic trash.

“I’m sick and tired of watching environmental films that talk about a problem and don’t talk about a solution,” said scuba diver, filmmaker, and Lake Tahoe resident Colin West. 

In 2020, West and his team of divers will be swimming Lake Tahoe’s 72-mile circumference to cleanup piles of garbage that lay just below the surface of the lake’s picturesque waters. 

Their scuba diving effort will be the largest-ever underwater cleanup of Lake Tahoe’s history.

West’s passion for keeping waterways healthy stemmed from traveling in Belize, where piles of plastic littered tortoise ocean water. Afterwards, he realized there was a problem much closer to home.

Learn More: “72 MILE -Lake Tahoe Scuba Clean Up”

West has already conducted several dives to see how widespread the problem is. According to West, the most problematic areas are in harbors where tourists’ boats dock. Tourists who visited the lake before West was even born left behind a footprint that is still visible. West has found old objects including a boom box from the 1970s.

Matt Meunier is the owner of Tahoe Dive Center, and West is the founder of Clean Up the Lake.

The 72 MILE -Lake Tahoe Scuba Clean Up’s GoFundMe page writes,  “The dive will be completed in stages. The two leads, West and Meunier, will be cleaning themselves as they circumnavigate the entirety of the lake using dry suit certifications to begin the dive in late spring of 2020, and full face masks to communicate GPS coordinates of problem areas for trash to surface support in boats.  These problem areas are to be further cleaned that day by an additional follow crew consisting of 3 to 5 divers each day, and 18-30 other divers total for the project so they may alternate their dives once a week.  All GPS coordinates of the problem areas will then be cataloged by the NPO Clean Up The Lake to monitor in the future for any reoccurring trash.  The team is also planning to coordinate beach clean up crews across the circumference of the lake where possible.”

West is chronicling the massive cleanup effort through his documentary titled, “Make A Difference,” and he hopes to incite passion against plastic pollution.


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