Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay (PHOTO: the_tahoe_guy)

My wife, seven year-old son Aidan and I recently returned from a vacation to Lake Tahoe.  On the border between California and Nevada in the Western United States, Lake Tahoe is in the middle of U.S.  Forest Service land and bordered by numerous ski resorts.  Lake Tahoe is one of the clearest lakes in the world and, at about 1900 m above sea level, is the largest alpine lake in North America.  The freshwater lake is 500 m at its deepest point, second deepest in the United States after Oregon’s Crater Lake.

Lake Tahoe storm drain pipe transporting polluted road runoff into Lake Tahoe (PHOTO: Tahoepipeclub (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons])

I relished the opportunity to share my love of the Pacific Northwest’s wild places with my son.  The city in which we live, Eugene, Oregon is very progressive in terms of environmental sensitivity.  Aidan has already learned about the importance of conserving our natural resources in school.  He regularly points out things that are “wasting water” or “hurting the planet.”

Upon arriving, our first stop was the lakeshore to dip our feet in the icy-cold snowmelt-fed water and marvel at the spectacular sunset over the mountains to the west.  Along the water’s edge we could see a steady decrease in the remarkable clarity of the water – a result of lakeside development and urban stormwater runoff.  On submerged rocks we could see algae, which was not there ten years ago.  Aidan and I talked about how, even with efforts to export sewage and garbage generated in the Tahoe basin, the lake could someday lose its legendary purity because of human impacts.

I like to think that my work at ELAW has had an impact on the way he sees the world.  It was gratifying to see Aidan interact with nature and develop an appreciation for clean water and a healthy planet.

Glenn Gillis
Information Technology Manager