Drought Hurts Lake Tahoe Tours - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Drought Hurts Lake Tahoe Tours

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There's no question, it's been a dry year and that lack of snowfall isn't just having an effect on the local ski resorts at Lake Tahoe. It's also having an effect on the lake itself. In fact, the levels are so low the Tahoe Queen has been grounded for more than a month. "The level over there at the channel is just too low and to protect the integrity of the boat and the equipment underneath the boat, we have to make sure to just leave it as is, right now," says Teri Sweeney of Aramark Lake Tahoe.

The MS Dixie II is still operating because it docks in the deeper water of Zephyr Cove. But it has a new route bypassing Emerald Bay because its waters are too shallow. While the dry weather doesn't help business, the warmer temperatures do. "We are still at high capacity, every day. Not having both boats running basically just saves us on labor from running both of the boats."

Bleu Wave Cruises is also seeing more people than normal for the winter months.

And they haven't had to make any changes so far and can still give tours of Emerald Bay. "Being a much smaller yacht, we still have the ability to get inside. If we drop down another foot to a foot-and-a-half, that might be questionable," says Chad Forvilly.

Lake Tahoe's water levels are about seven inches above its natural rim. And Forvilly says if it drops much more, it could temporarily halt boat tours. "Without the consistency of the snowpack and bringing more water into it, it might even affect us from even running at all."

Forvilly says Lake Tahoe's economy relies on the snow - whether it's winter or summer. But says this problem is nothing new like the dry years in the early 1990s. "I've seen it a lot worse. From where we're at now, I think it dropped about two feet from where we're at now. And that really impacted a lot of the marinas up here."

People up here are hoping the next couple of months of winter will bring plenty of snowfall and that will bring the lake levels back up and have the Tahoe Queen fully operational by this summer.

Written by Paul Nelson

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