Tahoe’s ever changing Lake Level

We are right at the natural rim of the Lake! Tahoe has risen about an inch this month. In early March it rose 1/2″ in a day and a half. For the middle of winter, this is a significant amount of water entering the Lake. The graph above shows that the measuring buoy was dry through mid-January.

Tahoe has risen roughly 10″ since winter started. According to the Watermaster, who I talk to throughout the year, after a normal winter (450″ of snow) the Lake rises about 18″. Another expert told me it can rise 3 feet from an average winter. Of course, the big variable is how much water Reno takes. The 6′ of water above Tahoe’s natural rim is  reservoir for Reno.

USGS DescriptionElevation (ft)

Maximum legal limit 6,229.1

Natural rim of lake 6,223

Gage Datum 6,220

Note: Current lake elevation = 6,220 + Current gage height.

When I lived at West Shore lakefront I watched the Lake rise at what seemed like an inch per day. It was amazing. A friend had lived there the previous 5 years and the pier was unusable the entire time. After the big spring when I lived there, we were doing flips of the pier and catching fish at sunset.

There’s a great article on ‘Tahoe’s Water Wars’ that I link to below but first, here is a quote from it:

“Armed confrontations were barely averted between Tahoe residents and hired hands doing the bidding of farmers in Fallon. In the middle of a hot August night in 1930, Nevada “water interests” sent a steam shovel under police escort to the Tahoe Dam to dig a trench around it on land owned by Sierra Pacific Power Co. (successor to the Truckee River General Electric Co.) A violent clash between Tahoe locals and the Nevada crew was narrowly avoided when a deputy sheriff issued a cease and desist order to the steam shovel operator. Tahoe residents stood guard at the dam all night as rumors spread that Nevadans might be tempted to blast an opening in the natural rim with dynamite. The following night, the steam shovel was vandalized and the newly dug ditch partially filled back in. A court injunction soon put a stop to Nevada’s bold but illegal attempt to bypass the dam.” Click here to read entire article.

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