‘I was blown away’: divers haul 200lb of trash from Lake Tahoe in a day

Scuba divers removed about 200lb of garbage from California’s Lake Tahoe 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 accumulating underwater.

The team plans to look for trash along the entire 72 miglia (115 km) of shoreline in an endeavor that could be the largest trash cleanup in the lake’s history, said Colin West, a diver and film-maker who founded Clean Up the Lake, the non-profit spearheading the project.

“We are still learning not to be so wasteful. But unfortunately, as a species we still are, and there are a lot of things down there,” West said after completing the first dive.

The team collected about 200lb (90kg) of garbage during their first session and found 20 large or heavy items, including buckets filled with cement and car bumpers, which will have to be retrieved later by a boat with a crane, Egli ha detto.

They plan to dive three days a week down to depths of 25ft (7 meters). The clean-up effort will cost $250,000, which the non-profit has collected through grants, and will last through November.

West started doing beach cleanups along the lake after visiting Belize and seeing beaches there littered with trash. But in 2018, after a diver friend told him he and others had collected 600lb (272kg) of garbage from the waters on Tahoe’s eastern shore, he decided to focus on the trash in the water.

“I was blown away, and we started researching and going underneath the surface and we kept pulling up trash and more trash,” said West, who lives in Stateline, Nevada.

In a survey dive on September 2019, his team removed more than 300lb (136kg) of debris from Lake Tahoe’s eastern shore and planned to launch a cleanup along the whole shoreline last year. The pandemic delayed those plans.

But the group of volunteers, which also includes up to 10 divers as well as support crew on kayaks, boats and jet skis, continued diving and cleaning both Lake Tahoe and nearby Donner Lake. By the end of the last summer, they had collected more than four tons of trash from both lakes.

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