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Rubber Lining Will Target Clams Clouding Up Lake Tahoe

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LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) – A tiny clam could threaten the crystal clear water for everyone who enjoys Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay, but scientists at UC Davis are ready to attack the invasive species with a unique weapon.

You’ve heard of the saying where the rubber meets the road. Well, the rubber is about to meet the clams in Lake Tahoe. UC Davis plans to use rubber mats to kill the unwanted guest.

Next week divers will put more than 23,000 feet of rubber lining along the bottom of Emerald Bay. The bay has been a peaceful home for tiny Asian clams for a decade, but their numbers are growing and they are not welcome here anymore.

“So if you’ve got 6,000 clams per square yard, each excreting highly concentrated material, then in that one area you have a lot of nutrients,” said Geoffrey Schladow with the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.

The clams spit out nutrients after they eat and those nutrients help algae thrive, mucking up the lake’s pristine waters.

“When it was at its worse a couple of years ago, it was really, really ugly, and then they start washing up on the shore and start rotting and decomposing,” Schladow said.

The rubber mats designed by UC Davis will cover five acres of clams that hug the shoreline.

Divers will fasten them so tight that very little oxygen can get underneath, essentially covering up the clams until they suffocate.

The project is the biggest in the lake’s history and is getting some attention from other areas dealing with the algae-producing pest.

“We’ve had phone calls from people all over the county asking about it,” Geoffrey Schladow said.

Divers will remove the tarps in a year, and scientists hope they won’t see many more of these guys in the lake.

Scientists aren’t sure how the clams made their way into Lake Tahoe. The project will cost more than $800,000.

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