Friday evening brought thunder claps and patchy showers to Lake Tahoe, adding to the flow of streams and rivers the following day as 40 participants collected water quality samples across Tahoe’s South Shore as part of Snapshot Day. This citizen science water quality monitoring event takes place every May and provides a moment-in-time look at the water quality and environmental health of the Tahoe-Truckee watershed. Despite the challenging conditions created by the pandemic, 13 teams of dedicated volunteers and League to Save Lake Tahoe staff members took the proper precautions and continued a tradition that now spans 20 years.

Snapshot Day participants conduct field water quality tests and collect water samples at a South Lake Tahoe stream mouth. (Photo Credit: League volunteer)

“We’re thrilled that we’re able to celebrate Snapshot Day’s 20th by sampling at 26 important stream and meadow sites, from Meeks Bay to Zephyr Cove,” said Emily Frey, the League’s

Citizen Science Program Coordinator. “We had to reconfigure how we prepared, sanitized and got sampling instruments to our teams, but the safety precautions and extra effort were well worth it.”

With the addition of this year’s sampling, there is a robust, longitudinal dataset that allows researchers and scientists to track changes in important water quality characteristics over two decades. The data help research institutions and environmental organizations like the League to Save Lake Tahoe better understand how the Tahoe ecosystem responds to man-made and environmental shocks, such as droughts, wildfires and climate change. It also guides planning for ecosystem restoration projects and other efforts that build environmental resilience to the challenges of the future.

Yet, Snapshot Day is about more than the environment; there are passionate people behind it. The event is fueled by committed volunteers who hike out into marshes and streams, wade into frigid, snowmelt-driven waters and perform scientific measurements themselves. It’s an excellent demonstration of how citizen science can connect a community to its environment in a personal way, and build an ethic of environmental stewardship that is needed to Keep Tahoe Blue.

“I love Lake Tahoe. It’s a beautiful place to get outdoors, and it

truly gives you more than you can give back to it,” said Erin Feiger, a League volunteer.

This year’s samples are being analyzed by generous event partners from the South Tahoe Public Utility District and Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. The League looks forward to parsing through the data to further our understanding of this beautiful place we get to care for.

To learn more about the entire Truckee River Watershed Snapshot Day event at 

To learn more about the League’s past Snapshot Day events and view the 19-year database, visit our website here:

Check out this video showcasing the fun from our 2017 event: