A problem in our backyard (Opinion)

Greg Anderson
Guest column

For the past 20 years, I’ve been extremely fortunate to own a home in the Tahoe Keys and share a boat with a few friends. In those two decades, I’ve seen a lot of change from the view out of my backyard.

The watery cul-de-sac where the boat is parked during the summer, while never as crystal clear as the lake itself, has become more murky and unattractive each year. Every time I take the boat out, I spend more time with a gaff pushing long tentacles of green, underwater plants off the hull and untangling them from the prop.

Motoring through the Keys lagoons, the problem is no better: floating mats of weeds bob beside docks and across the water’s surface. After reversing the prop in the Keys’ boat backup station and passing through the bubble curtain — both tactics that prevent floating plant fragments from escaping the Keys — I look over the bow into Lake Tahoe and see, depressingly, weeds growing along the bottom, marching out into the lake. These bottom dwellers escaped the Keys before the containment systems were in place.

Tahoe’s aquatic invasive weed problem may have its epicenter in the Tahoe Keys, but there’s much more at stake than my backyard. I fear that the lake we know and love may be unrecognizable in another 20 years if we don’t quickly get a handle on the Keys invasive weed problem. That’s why I support the Tahoe Keys Weeds Control Methods Test, which will scientifically, systematically and rigorously test the full range of available treatment options to knock back the weed infestation in the Tahoe Keys, so it can be effectively managed and prevented from spreading.

Many have laid the fault for this aquatic weed problem at the feet of the Tahoe Keys and the people like me who own homes there. After all, we live and play at ground zero. I can’t convince you not to blame us, but at least I can share that we love Lake Tahoe just like you and want nothing more than to keep it blue. We’ve shown it by voting with our pocketbooks, by approving and paying increases in our property owners association assessments to implement new treatments, including UV-C light, laminar flow aeration, bubble curtains, skimming and more. We will fund the Control Methods Test as well, and are committed to funding the next steps, guided by what we learn. We know this will be a long battle to protect Lake Tahoe, but we are up to the fight.

To date, the millions spent by the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association and its members have not solved the problem. So we need to find out what will. That’s the purpose of the proposed Tahoe Keys Weeds Control Methods Test, which is currently being considered by regulators.

The spreading weed problem, and some of the potential treatments, both weigh heavy on my mind. Clearly, the things we’ve tried don’t work, so we must try something new, uncertain as that might be.

Over the course of four years, the proposed test has been reviewed and scrutinized from every thinkable angle. There are safeguards in place to ensure that the tests are performed safely, monitored closely and will have no lasting negative impact on the waters in the Tahoe Keys, let alone Lake Tahoe.

While that vetting process assures me this is the safest version of the test possible, I still have concerns. Yet, there’s too much at stake to sit on our hands any longer. We owe it to the Lake, and to ourselves as Tahoe lovers, to move forward pragmatically, safely and quickly to prevent a more dire future that sits on our doorstep.

Greg Anderson is a two-decade Tahoe Keys homeowner and lifelong Tahoe enthusiast.

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