The Tahoe Nearshore Dippers Program

dip in pier logoThe Tahoe Nearshore Dippers (Dippers) program is a volunteer-based monitoring program to help measure Tahoe’s nearshore water clarity conditions, which have been declining for years as more algae growth clutters our shoreline. Although there are many efforts around Lake Tahoe which aim to address mid-lake clarity conditions, there is no single monitoring program which focuses solely on gathering clarity measurements in Tahoe’s nearshore. In fact, scientists recently reiterated the need for more monitoring of Tahoe’s nearshore. In addition, the horizontal secchi measurements being utilized in the Tahoe Nearshore Dippers program have been shown to correlate extremely well with turbidity, a technical measurement of transparency.

The Dippers program includes an easy, fun method for measuring Tahoe’s nearshore conditions over the summer (when they are at their worst); volunteers of all ages are encouraged. Measurements can be taken from piers, along beaches, from boats, and other nearshore areas. For interested volunteers, ongoing measurements into the winter will also be encouraged.


Secchi Dip-In near the Keys

Secchi Dip-In near the Tahoe Keys

Through the Tahoe Nearshore Dippers program, the Friends of the West Shore (FOWS) encourages community awareness of Tahoe’s nearshore conditions while providing a family-friendly volunteer program for Basin residents and visitors. All data will be posted on FOWS website and uploaded to the national Secchi Dip-In website.

The Secchi-Dip-In program stems from decades of efforts among other communities around the world who have seen once pristine, clear waters become muddy and algae-laden. We encourage you to learn more about the program at

For more information, watch this short instructional video!

We’ll also post information and pictures on our Facebook page – please check us out. Last, but not least, volunteers set a new world record for the most measurements taken on a water body on July 4th! View results from 2014 and 2015.

Sign Up Now for 2015!



July is “Lakes Appreciation Month!”

With increasing population, development, and stress on our waterbodies, Lakes Appreciation Month is a reminder that we should think about where we would be without water. All life relies on this valuable resource and we often take for granted that water will always be there and will always be usable.

The North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) promotes the Lakes Appreciation Month as excellent opportunity to take the time to enjoy your local freshwater resources and bring some attention to them – to either celebrate their values or launch an action to protect, enhance, or rejuvenate them. (Information modified from NALMS website).

To celebrate Lake Tahoe, FOWS’ program encouraged volunteers to begin taking important nearshore secchi disk measurements beginning on July 4th (2014). In addition, we coordinated with volunteers around the entire Basin and set a world record on July 4th – the most volunteer secchi measurements taken on a Lake in one day. Volunteers were asked to spend a day on the beach (not bad!) with a ‘station,’ asking visitors to look through the viewer box and note when they can no longer see the black disk (see diagram below). Not only did volunteers establish a new international record for Lake Tahoe, but the program also provides a fun, interactive way to help visitors understand the importance of protecting Tahoe’s nearshore.



Lake Tahoe Joins a National Effort: What is the Secchi Dip-In?

The Secchi Dip-In is a demonstration of the potential of volunteer monitors to gather environmentally important information on our lakes, rivers and estuaries.

The concept of the Dip-In is simple: individuals in volunteer monitoring programs take transparency measurements on one day, or during the entire summer (FOWS program will encourage both). Nationally, these transparency values are used to assess the transparency of volunteer-monitored lakes in the United States and Canada. The FOWS Tahoe Nearshore Dippers program aims to gather transparency information from numerous shoreline areas along Lake Tahoe and post it on our website as well as upload the data to the National Dip-In database.


Secchi Dipin National

Map of transparency in North America based on volunteer-submitted data during the Dip-In, 1994-2002.