Freshmen volunteer to test Tahoe water quality

sampling at Tahoe

Measuring temperature is best done from the bank as it takes some time and the water is very cold.


A group of first-year CBS students tested the water quality at the Lake Tahoe watershed on Snapshot Day May 17, volunteering their time as a service project for the College's Freshmen Cohort Program.

Assigned to Trout Creek, the 49 freshmen waded into the water and collected samples for testing. They also performed a stream walk for a visual assessment of the area's ecological health, collected field data and took photos for the project.

"The students got a hands-on glimpse of field work and biology applications, while serving the community," Cohort Program Coordinator Ashley Vater said. Snapshot Day is a one-day annual volunteer event that captures a single moment in time of the Truckee River watershed. Organized by the Tahoe-Truckee Clean Water Team, its goal is to collect essential information about water quality around Lake Tahoe and to promote environmental stewardship.

"Everyone was very enthusiastic about hiking and being outdoors, and the students commented how much they learned a considerable amount about the importance of lake clarity its relationship to the ecological health of the basin," Vater said.

Across the region, volunteer teams fanned out to monitoring sites to test the streams for dissolved oxygen, conductivity, pH and temperature. After the Davis students completed that work at Trout Creek, water samples were taken back to central locations and measured for turbidity, nutrients and fecal coliform bacteria.

"Our students' sampling results showed nothing out of the ordinary—which is a good sign," Vater said. "Students' observations were recorded in a national database, which may be used for restoration projects, monitoring, and for the collaborative effort to protect the Tahoe-Truckee watershed from further degradation.

tahoe water sampling

Getting into the thalweg—or fastest moving part—of the stream is important to sample accurately for dissolved oxygen.

About the Program

The Cohort Program is an opportunity for freshmen to develop community and orient themselves within CBS as soon as they arrive at UC Davis. It is funded by a gift from alumnus Dr. Edward Yu.