Words by Smiley Team
Lake Tahoe is a scenic, 191 square mile body of water famous for its beautiful views, and clear blue water.
But the lake also has a garbage problem – a problem that scuba diver Colin West was inspired to fix.
“I really wanted to do something that made a difference and helped the environment,” Colin told the LA Times.
The way that Colin aimed to make a difference was with his non-profit, Clean Up the Lake. He started it in May 2021, and since then the organization has pulled out more than 25,000 lbs of garbage from the lake, according to their website.
“You might find five or six beer cans in one area,” Colin told The Guardian. “But the sunglasses, the cellphones, the hats, the construction material – a lot of this has happened accidentally or from wind storms. No one is trying to lose a boat anchor.”
Lake Tahoe reportedly gets 15 million visitors a year and with that comes an influx of potential litter sources even if fully unintentional. That litter can spread all throughout the lake and elsewhere.
With that in mind, Clean Up the Lake has covered 72 square miles of the lake.
The organization is made up of a handful of volunteer scuba divers that scour the lake while supported by boats and jet skis. The lake itself is up to 1,645 feet deep in some places, making it the second deepest lake in the US. Because of that they often have to go on multiple dives to cover an area.
To date, they’ve gone on 189 individual dives.
DONATE: You can support Colin's nonprofit, Clean Up The Lake, by donating.
VOLUNTEER: As a part of their Scuba powered clean-ups, the charity relies heavily on the help of surface support volunteers. Find out more.