Where does Lake Tahoe’s water come from?

Published: Wednesday, Mar. 5, 2014 - 12:00 am

Q: Where does Lake Tahoe’s water come from and how dependent is it on precipitation? Is it self-renewing from a very deep source of great size? – Linda Johnson, Salt Lake City

A: Because of its great depth (1,645 feet), Lake Tahoe holds enough water to cover the entire state of California to a depth of about 14 inches, according to the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. But if that somehow were to happen, the lake would remain depleted for a very long time.

Lake Tahoe’s water is pretty much entirely dependent on precipitation. Although some groundwater may seep into the lake from the mountains that surround it, that groundwater is also largely present because of precipitation.

The watershed that feeds snowmelt into Lake Tahoe is large: about 500 square miles. Even so, it would take many years to refill the lake were it to go dry. The Forest Service estimates that completely refilling the lake from precipitation would take about 700 years.

Submit your question for The Sacramento Bee’s water team.

Call The Bee’s Matt Weiser at (916) 321-1264. Follow him on Twitter @matt_weiser.

Read more articles by Matt Weiser

Sacramento Bee Job listing powered by Careerbuilder.com
Quick Job Search
Sacramento Bee Jobs »
Used Cars
Dealer and private-party ads


Price Range:
Search within:
miles of ZIP

Advanced Search | 1982 & Older