As I mentioned in my 8 February post, on 10 February Mary Frances and I headed to Reno, NV, where we met when we both worked at the Desert Research Institute in the 1980s (1976-1989 for me). I will be attending the last meeting of the Nevada Climate Change EPSCoR Project's External Advisory Board at DRI.
We arrived early yesterday (10 AM) and headed to Lake Tahoe, aka 'The Lake', for a visit to the Hyatt Lake Tahoe at Incline Village, NV, where we were married in 1993. We took in a leisurely lunch and stroll along the beach, although it was quite chilly despite the gorgeous Sierra sunshine. Mary Frances is standing near the spot where our wedding picture was taken almost 20 years ago. The view is towards the north.
I have been fortunate to live in some beautiful areas - Tucson; New Mexico; Willamette Valley, OR; and Santa Cruz, CA - but the Reno/Lake Tahoe area is still number 1, especially the 6+ years I lived in the Truckee, CA, area, a stone's throw from 'The Lake'. The lake, and the surroundings, are spectacular.
Lake Tahoe itself is quite amazing; here is the USGS WWW site. It is the second deepest lake in the USA - maximum depth 1 645 feet or 501 meters (Crater Lake is 1 949 feet or 594 meters deep at its deepest point) and tenth deepest in the world. Its average surface elevation is 6,225 feet ( 1 897 m) AMSL. The lake is also quite old as lakes go - a few million years.
But, as a water guy, I am really impressed with the volume of water in the lake: about 151 cubic kilometers or about 36 cubic miles or 122 million acre feet, which is about 5 times as much water as Lake Mead holds when full. If none of those figures means much, consider this: Lake Tahoe holds enough water to cover California to a depth of about 14 inches or 36 centimeters. That's a lot of water!
Below are some pictures I took yesterday.
Here is a 'filtered view' (as the real estate people would say) of the lake from the Mt. Rose Highway (Nevada State Route 431), elevation about 8 000 feet (2 450 meters) AMSL. Snowpack looks pretty thin here, although in the the basin it is above average, at least it was at the end of December 2012 (161% of normal). There has not been much snow since the start of 2013.
Now for the Bateman Plan. Dick Bateman was a colleague of mine in my early days at DRI. In the late 1970s northern Nevada and California were gripped by drought. River levels were down. Crops were suffering. Lawns were many shades of brown. What could be done?
But never fear - DRI would find the solution, and Dick was 'da man' with a plan to 'harvest some' water from Lake Tahoe (virtually impossible to do legally) without anyone (read: California) knowing about it. Bateman's plan was to install a thick Lucite layer about 50 feet below Lake Tahoe's surface. This would be done at night so California would be none the wiser. Once that was done, a tunneling machine would bore into the lake from Carson City so that the waters of the lake beneath the Lucite layer could be tapped from the Nevada side. Presto! All the water northern Nevada would need, and no pumping needed!
From that moment on, the plan became known as The Bateman Plan, and Dick could describe it to anyone and manage to keep a straight face. If I recall, a couple of reporters picked up on and reported the story.
A few years ago I applied the Bateman Plan to Crater Lake.
There were also myths about groundwater flowing from Pyramid Lake, the terminus of the Truckee River, to Lake Tahoe, the river''s origin. Or maybe it was the other way around. Anyway, I once heard an engineer explain that since Pyramid Lake had a larger surface area than Tahoe (not quite true), there was greater pressure on its surface and that forced water to leak out of the lake's bottom and flow to Lake Tahoe as groundwater. Never mind that pressure is force per unit area.
I still remember that guy's name, too.
With that, I'll close.
"At last the lake burst upon us--a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft three thousand feet higher still! As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface, I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole world affords." - Mark Twain, speaking of Lake Tahoe (1861)