Energy and Environment

Tahoe bugs are "canaries in the coal mine"

Jan 20, 2015

You are probably familiar with the "Keep Tahoe Blue" stickers, which have brought public awareness to the decline in clarity of Lake Tahoe's signature blue waters. 

But here's a bumper sticker you haven't seen, yet: 'Save Tahoe's Smallest Critters.' Those invertebrates, some only native to Tahoe, are undergoing a massive extinction at the lake's bottom. A group of divers recently completed a first-of-its-kind tour of the entire lake in order to assess the ecological changes there. 

The new year "critical" for region's water supply

Dec 30, 2014

The snowpack in the Sierra continues to reflect the drought conditions that have stressed Northern Nevada in recent years.

For the third year in a row, the Truckee Meadows and other nearby basins on the Eastern Sierra have only about two thirds of the normal snowpack. Or, put another way: we’ve lost a year’s worth of precipitation in this most recent drought cycle.

“The reservoir storage on the Truckee River is only about 25 percent of capacity.”

Jeff Anderson is a hydrologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Water fight takes shape in Northern Nevada

Dec 12, 2014
Chuck Schlarb

 A battle over water is brewing on the parched earth of the Black Rock Desert. An effort to transport water from Humboldt County more than 100 miles south has residents and ranchers alarmed. 

Chuck Giordano grows alfalfa on the outskirts of the Black Rock Desert in a place appropriately known as Desert Valley. But don’t let the name fool you. When it comes to water, he’s lucky.

“We have a fairly good reserve of water underneath us because our water table, even with the drought, has hardly dropped any.”

State wildlife officials say they are concerned that climate change and urbanization might diminish the native bee population. Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss reports the Nevada Department of Agriculture is putting together guidelines to protect these important pollinators of natural plants.

Jeff Knight is the state’s entomologist. His job is primarily to keep the bad bugs out and to monitor the ones that are vital to the local environment.

Nevada regulators to decide on rules for fracking

Aug 28, 2014
Photo from www.blogs.kqed.org.

Thursday, Nevada regulators will decide on proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking." The industry is just beginning to explore for oil in the east, near Elko, using this technique. Environmental groups and some locals worry about the impacts on Nevada's scarce water resources. Reno Public Radio's Will Stone has more on that debate.

New funding is needed for Tahoe boat inspection program

Aug 28, 2014

The Lake Tahoe boat inspection program prevents invasive species from contaminating the water. Federal funding for the program lasts just one more year and it’s unclear where the money will come from after that.

For the last five years, boats launched into Lake Tahoe have been inspected to prevent non-native species like quagga mussels from wreaking havoc on the lake’s eco-system.

As Tahoe warms, oxygen and clarity could decrease

Aug 14, 2014
Will Stone

In the lead up to next week’s Tahoe Summit, researchers are taking stock of how warmer temperatures are impacting the lake’s iconic clear waters. Earlier this week, we looked at concerns about water quality near the shore. But, as it turns out, climate change may also affect oxygen levels in the lake.

 

 

Bob Conrad/This Is Reno

UNR and DRI researchers in Northern Nevada are launching a broad effort to better predict and prepare for severe drought and climate change. 

 

While many places are feeling the impacts of climate change, Western Nevada and the Sierra make a good case study. For one, the trends in temperature change here track almost exactly with the global ones. Along with that, Maureen McCarthy, a UNR researcher, says our desert environment, fed by snowfall in the mountains, is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. 

Will Stone

Gary Scott has spent many a summer on the docks at Incline Village, overseeing his rental boat company, Action Water Sports. But, this year, keeping the boats clean has been more of a challenge.

"With our rental boats, in particular, we're seeing more algae growth than what we're used to."

Tahoe may not be in the same shape as some lakes in California, where the water levels are at record lows, but it's still feeling the impacts of a light winter and very little snowmelt. Scott says the water level here is down about 5 feet.

Nevada Department of Wildlife

Wildlife officials have been salvaging fish from ditches around Reno that are depleted because of the ongoing drought.

Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that the operation saved about six thousand fish.

The Truckee Meadows Water Authority usually operates the Washoe and Verdi ditches as hydroelectric power sources, but the authority shut down all water flows to the ditches this week because of the drought.

Pages