Save Our Streams

Bugs and Insects Are Indicators of a Stream’s Health

The Smith Mountain Lake Association (SMLA) teams up with the local Virginia Save Our Streams Program (VA SOS) and the Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes (BRFAL) Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program to conduct water quality monitoring on small streams that eventually feed into the lake. Orientation sessions are scheduled based on interest. Certified volunteer monitors (“citizen scientists”) collect and identify fresh water aquatic macroinvertebrates (critters) that live on the bottom of a stream (benthic area) on a quarterly basis. Information on the diversity and number of critters found is used to determine the quality of water flowing through the streams and to monitor the quality over time. Data collected is entered into the VA SOS database and used by the State Department of Environmental Quality in assessing the overall quality of Virginia’s streams and rivers and used to identify specific problems that may need to be addressed. The VA SOS data from streams feeding into Smith Mountain Lake complements the SMLA/ Ferrum College Water Quality Monitoring Program (WQMP) that has set the standard across the nation for a volunteer lake monitoring program for over thirty years.

Join us and make a difference!


Individuals interested learning becoming certified Save Our Streams monitors attend an Orientation session designed to provide a basis for understanding water quality and how water quality is monitored. This is followed by approximately three in-stream monitoring sessions collecting and identifying fresh water aquatic macroinvertebrates with certified trainers leading to certification.

To learn more about becoming a certified SOS monitor should contact Geoff Orth at or by leaving a message with the SMLA office at (540) 719-0690.

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