SMLA’s focus is water quality and recreational safety; our mission is to protect the water of SML and promote safe recreation. Through our focused activities SMLA strives to retain the pristine beauty of our lake encouraging resident’s and renters’ peace of mind and provides them with a legacy they can transfer to later generations. This translates to a vibrant local economy in support of our business partners. Below are current activities and reports that demonstrate SMLA’s level of commitment to our Lake. Other interesting and exciting accomplishments and activities can be viewed by browsing the website tabs at the top of every page.
TLAC encourages residents to call them at 540-721-4400. As a service to the community, their staff will then forward a report on your behalf. However, if it is outside business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 – 4:30) and the debris poses an immediate navigation hazard, residents should call AEP directly at 800-956-4237.
Should you be involved in a boating accident, please contact the local authorities (911) and Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (804-367-1000)
TLAC is collecting information regarding damage and incidents caused by high wakes. If possible take photos and report the incident via this online form.
Monitoring Sites for Key Parameters to Determine Lake Aging
Tons of Debris Removed During 2019 Lake Cleanup Days
Gallons of Marine Head Effluent Disposed of from 142 boats in 2019
Free boat safety inspections conducted by the Water Safety Council team
Smith Mountain Lake has been listed by Boat U.S. magazine in their 2018 April/May edition as one of the top eight lakes in the country, and the 2018 June/July edition of Garden and Gun Magazine rated SML as one of the top 10 “Summer Lake Escapes”.
In 2019 Smith Mountain Lake has been ranked 15th on the best bass fishing lake list in the Northeast region.
In our continuing effort to both educate and advise our members and residents on SMLA’s mission to protect the water of SML and promote safe recreation, the following questions were addressed during the Annual Membership Meeting, as well as those received but unable to answer at the time. Responses are provided by SMLA Board members.
By Pat Massa, SML Water Safety Council
Each spring, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) publishes the Boating Incident Report from the previous season. To get included, mishaps must meet one or more of four qualifying characteristics: (1) Damages of over $2000 by or to the vessel or its equipment; (2) An injury requiring medical assistance beyond first aid; (3) Loss of life; (4) Disappearance of any person from a vessel.
During 2019, there were 89 such incidents on Virginia waters, involving 94 vessel, 35 injuries and 20 fatalities. Alcohol was a known factor in 20% of the fatalities. Paddle craft (canoes kayaks and paddleboards) were involved in 10% of fatal incidents. In all but one (95%) of the fatal incidents no life jacket was worn.
A few more specifics: As you would expect, most incidents happen during prime season, though in 2019 nearly 75% of November incidents resulted in loss of life. Cold weather months definitely require those on the water be extra careful and prepared. The vessel type most typically involved is “Open Motorboat.” Leading locations of boating Incidents are the Chesapeake Bay followed by our own Smith Mountain Lake. The most frequent types of fatality incidents are “collision with a fixed object” and “capsizing.” About 50% of the boats involved are 16 to 26 feet and the highest percentage of involved operators are age 56 and over (37%). The most common cause of fatality is falling overboard. Of the 20 deaths, nineteen victims were not wearing life jackets (the other fatality involved improper wearing of a PFD).
Specific to Smith Mountain Lake: No drownings occurred at SML in 2019—exactly the result your Water Safety Council works hard to achieve. That’s an improvement from both 2017 and 2018 when there was one fatality each year, though none of those involved a boat and thus were not reported as “boating incidents.”
Since the enactment of the safe boating law, incidents have decreased significantly, attesting to the value and importance of boating education. What do we need to do to keep ourselves and others safe? First, everyone aboard a vessel should be wearing a life jacket. Should they find themselves in the water, their chances of survival are dramatically improved. Second, boat operators must remain unimpaired by alcohol or drugs and appoint a crew member to act as a lookout to warn of hazards.
Throughout the year, you will see articles on these and other water safety topics from members of the Water Safety Council. Pay attention and take their recommendations with you on the water. Sign up for one the new Boating Education refresher courses (listed at VDGIF.gov). Make sure you, your boat and your crew are prepared for a safe boating season.
Be safe and courteous out there….that’s how you avoid becoming part of the statistics!
Patrick Massa Chair- SMLA Water Safety Council
Smith Mountain Lake Association (SMLA) is committed to protecting the water of SML and providing safe recreation. Accordingly, SMLA participates in an ongoing debris removal effort during our annual spring marquee event, Take Pride in SML, in collaboration with the SML Regional Chamber of Commerce and TLAC. Traditionally, this all-volunteer event pulls over 40 tons of debris from our lake. However, this year as SML homeowners were faced with COVID-19 canceling the Take Pride event, our watershed experienced three high water events resulting in significant debris and trash causing unsightly waterways and dangers to navigation.
Always committed to their mission, SMLA rose to the challenge by coordinating an interim response to fill the gap by reimbursing organized neighborhoods up to $500 for their dumpster and disposal costs while cleaning up their coves. A special emphasis for this year’s event focused on making sure participants were able to follow reasonable social distancing guidelines.
Indian Pointe Home Owners Association first initiated their cleanup in June, providing fourteen members and two pontoon boats to clean up debris that covered their cove and out into the main channel. Their impressive efforts sparked SMLA’s reimbursement initiative.
On July 18, 24 Walnut Run Property Owners Association residents participated in SMLA’s special cleanup event held at the Walnut Run Marina. Walnut Run participants provided 3 pontoon boats and 3 kayaks to help collect trash along approximately 2 miles of shoreline and cove areas. A member’s front loader was used to help place collected debris into the dumpster. Additionally, members of the SML Power Squadron assisted Walnut Run with debris collection and disposal.
Scores of bags filled with plastic bottles, Styrofoam blocks and cups, glass bottles and other man-made debris were collected and disposed. Logs as long as twenty feet with limbs still attached were also cut and disposed. Together, the cleanup effort resulted in over 10 tons of trash and debris.
SMLA is proud to support these volunteer efforts and recognizes their community spirit. Membership and charitable donations support the good work of SMLA, so we need your help to continue our mission to protect the water of Smith Mountain Lake. Please visit our website for more information on the work that SMLA performs or how you can support our continued efforts at www.smlassociation.org. It is our best and most efficient insurance for maintaining our property values and preserving our treasure – The Jewel of the Blue Ridge.
By Neil Harrington, SML Water Safety Council
Boating at SML is a great family activity. Towing the children around on a tube, beaching the boat for an afternoon picnic or pulling into the guest docks at one of the local waterfront restaurants–all make for a fun day on the lake. Keeping children safe while boating is your responsibility. Here are a few things to consider:
All children—even confident swimmers–should wear a properly fitted PFD anytime they are around the water, whether they are playing on the dock or riding in the boat. Don’t give in to the, “But I know how to swim!” plea. The lake environment is all-together different than the neighborhood pool with lifeguards and crystal clear water.
All passengers, especially children, should be seated while the boat is in operation and remain seated until the Captain tells them it is ok to get up. Sudden changes in direction or getting hit by a wake can easily eject a child from the boat or bang them against a fixed object.
Children are fascinated with water running under the bow of a boat. They want to watch it and may even reach down to touch it. However, never allow children to hang over the bow or dangle their feet over the bow of a moving boat. A child falling from the bow of a moving boat will be struck by the prop before the Captain has any time to take evasive action. It only takes a second.
Approaching and departing docks is a busy time for the Captain and the crew. Teach your children the importance of remaining seated while the Captain and designated crew take care of docking activities. Children can easily fall overboard because of sudden changes in direction. And never allow children to jump to the dock from a boat until it is safely secured.
When towing children in a tube, keep your speed down and make adjustments as necessary. Tubes have a tendency to “sling shot” through turns and bounce uncontrollably going over wakes. Childrens’ heads can easily bang together, resulting in concussions or other serious injuries.
Boating is a fun family activity. Keep your children safe and enjoy boating here at Smith Mountain Lake.
Boating Courtesy Discussed at SMLA Annual MeetingBy Sherese Gore – Smith Mountain EagleA phrase the Smith Mountain Lake Association uses is “watch your wake, share the lake,” said SMLA member Randy Stow last week.Boating courtesy was a topic discussed at the 2019 Smith Mountain Lake Association Annual Meeting on Thursday. The gathering, held at Trinity Ecumenical Parish, was open to the community.“Boating courtesy is recognizing how our behavior impacts others and then operating in a way to minimize adverse conditions,” Stow said.Stow noted the Water Sports Industry Association advocates for a buffer of at least 200 feet from docks and shorelines; other stances urge boaters to be mindful of the volume of their music and avoid operating in the same area.Stow said that SMLA is trying to reinforce the same message through education, billboards and banners, such as those posted at certain marinas around the lake that urge boaters to “wake responsibly.”……..
By Bob Hastings
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to take an out-of-town family member for a boat ride up the Blackwater. It was an outstanding August afternoon to enjoy the sunshine, fellowship of family and the beautiful waters of Smith Mountain Lake. My sister-in-law, who is a realtor in Raleigh was quick to tell me how impressed she was with the beautiful homes lining the Blackwater river. I agreed until, as a dedicated member of the Smith Mountain Lake Association, I noticed how many homeowners are growing grass down to their rip rap. I thought to myself, “beautiful houses but, boy oh boy do these homeowners need a buffer garden between their rip rap and grass.”
One year ago, over Fourth of July weekend, Alexandra Anderson, 13, and her brother Brayden Anderson, 8, were swimming near a private dock in the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri when they started to scream. Their parents went to their aid, but by the time the siblings were pulled from the lake, they were unresponsive.
In general, water quality improves significantly as the water moves from the upper channels toward the dam. This is consistent with observations that have been made since the second year of the monitoring project. Eroded soil is carried to the lake by silt-laden streams, but sedimentation begins in the quiescent lake water. Phosphorus, primarily in the form of phosphate ions, strongly associates with the soil particles and settles out during the sedimentation process. Concentrations of total phosphorus, chlorophyll-a, and Secchi depth all correlate significantly with distance from the dam.
Show your support for SMLA! Colorful, high quality SMLA T-Shirts are now available on our website Shop page. Find great T-Shirts for all of the family in 4 different exciting colors from Small to 3XL sizes.