January 2023

January 2023

Did you know that the Smith Mountain Lake Association is the longest serving advocate for Smith Mountain Lake and our community?

For over 50 years, the Smith Mountain Lake Association (SMLA) has focused on keeping Smith Mountain Lake clean and safe. SMLA’s mission is to protect the water of SML and promote safe recreation.

SML has one of the most successful lake water monitoring and management programs in the nation. The Association is administered by the SMLA Board of Directors, with leadership from its Lake Quality and Water Safety Councils. SMLA also relies on partnerships with Appalachian Power (APCO), Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, the Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission, Bedford Regional Water Authority and Western Virginia Water Authority, Ferrum College, and over 100 volunteers.

Our comprehensive program includes:

  • Buffer Landscaping. Master Gardener and Master Naturalist volunteers provide free consultations to homeowners. They help design native buffer gardens to filter runoff and keep contaminants and fertilizers from flowing to the lake.
  • Save our Streams. Our citizen scientists collect and identify insects that live on the bottom of 17 tributaries that flow into SML. Serving as an early-warning system, the count of insects that live in our streams can help us understand water quality impacts.
  • Vessel Pump Out. Last season, the crew pumped over 5,200 gallons of sewage from boats at marinas all around SML, at no charge to boat owners.
  • Vessel Safety. Courtesy vessel safety checks are offered to all boat owners throughout the season.
  • Water Quality Monitoring. Our team of volunteers, using their own boats, take water samples from 84 sites around SML. Teamed with scientists and students from Ferrum College, SMLA has collected data of chemical and biological conditions of the lake for over 20 years.

SMLA’s monitoring and safety programs provide the lake community with a long-term view of the natural conditions and aging of the lake. Our monitoring identifies specific problem areas that can be addressed to improve water quality, and we can alert the public to elevated levels of contaminants of concern. Our outreach educates those who enjoy SML of the risks associated with lake recreation.

Lakes across Virginia are increasingly vulnerable to weather patterns influenced by changes in our climate, including warmer water temperatures and heavier rainfall. Solutions to manage these risks exist, and implementing them makes SML more resilient to the conditions and challenges of our changing climate.

The Smith Mountain Lake Association is a nonprofit 501(c)(3). It is an all-volunteer organization that relies on memberships and grants to support the programs that keep SML clean and safe. Lake Matters is a monthly op- ed for the SML community. Find regular updates on Facebook and much more on our webpage. Please join us and help protect SML. Be a Steward of the Lake!