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Decades of trash being removed by dedicated divers | NorCal Strong

Colin West and his nonprofit group Clean Up the Lake plan to clean the 72 miles of shoreline around Lake Tahoe.
Credit: Clean up the Lake
Clean Up the Lake is an army of scuba diver who are on a trash recovery mission that spans the 72 miles of shoreline around Lake Tahoe.

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The people who make Northern California Strong are those who inspire us and make our communities a great place to live. ABC10 wants to highlight their strength by recognizing what they do. This week we want to introduce you to Colin West, founder of the nonprofit group Clean Up the Lake, who is leading an army of scuba divers on a trash recovery mission that spans the 72 miles of shoreline around Lake Tahoe.

The group started in May 2021. So far, they’ve cleaned over 24 miles of lake shore that was littered with more than 5,000 pounds of trash. Cans, tires, and old crawdad traps are just some of the items they've been able to remove. 

“We average about a mile every day we dive,” West said. “I am really surprised on the amount of trash that we are pulling out of the lake and it’s sad to say, but it’s incredible what the team can do.”

West started Clean the Lake back in 2017. He has organized a number of clean-up dives at other lakes, but the 72-mile Lake Tahoe clean up is the organization's largest and most expensive to date. 

“The gasoline for all the vessels on the water multiple days a week add up and so does the insurance of all kinds," West said.

Thanks to a $100,000 donation from Tahoe Blue Vodka and a matching contribution from the nonprofit Tahoe Fund, West and his volunteers will have enough money for all the boat fuel, scuba gear and the operating expenses needed to not only remove the trash, but do research analysis of the garbage removed. 

“We want to ascertain where this trash came from, so we can educate the public and provide data and information to possible policy makers,” West said.

Clean the Lake hopes to complete the 72-mile-long clean up by the end of November 2021. Follow their progress and sign up to volunteer on their website

Colin West is NorCal Strong. If you want to nominate a strong Northern Californian, send a text to 916-321-3310 with NorCal Strong in the text. Feel free to send pictures and or web links in the submission. 

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