Ultraviolet light used in battle to save Lake Tahoe

The UV light boat that will be used in the pilot project to eliminate aquatic invasive weeds. | Courtesy Tahoe RCD

The use of ultraviolet light will be tested in open waters of Lake Tahoe to kill aquatic invasive plants in a joint venture by Tahoe Resource Conservation District and Inventive Resources Inc.

The UV light boat has been deployed in South Lake Tahoe and has begun analyzing the effects of deep penetrating UV light on aquatic invasive weeds in Lakeside Marina and open water settings through 2018.

New research shows that ultraviolet-C (UVC) light could be an effective method to eliminate aquatic invasive plants. UVC light works by damaging the DNA and cellular structure of invasive plant life that currently threaten the health of the Lake. While this technology needs to have further field testing to determine its full potential, ultraviolet light could augment the currently available methods Tahoe RCD already uses especially in low water years, in tight spaces within marinas or in river systems, according to a press release.

Invasive weeds before and after UV light treatment in Lake Tahoe. | Courtesy Tahoe RCD

This effort was launched with seed funding provided by the Tahoe Fund through its new Environmental Venture Trust program. The Tahoe Fund seeks to support projects that promote innovation to address degradation of Lake Tahoe’s natural resources. Additional in-kind support for the project will be provided by the Lakeside Park Association.

“We are thrilled to be a part of such an exciting project that demonstrates the innovative impact technology can have on the environment and our community,” said Amy Berry, CEO of the Tahoe Fund, in a press release. “We are so proud that we were able to help leverage one of the most important environmental issues facing Lake Tahoe today with this small contribution.”

“From our efforts in Emerald Bay, we know that invasive plant populations can be reduced, and with continued treatments and new tools, we will be better able to manage populations around the lake in the future,” said Nicole Cartwright, Aquatic Invasive Species Program Manager for Tahoe RCD.

“We are very excited to bring this technology to a new forefront,” said John Paoluccio, President of Inventive Resources, Inc. “A project using UV light to reduce aquatic plant infestations has been very successful in our laboratory and we anticipate it will be a potentially successful tool to control aquatic invasive plants in Tahoe and other waterways.”

The project has begun and is scheduled to be completed in 2018.