August 2023

August 2023

Volume 8, August 2023

AHOY! Greetings
The summer months are flying by. I hope you have been enjoying the lake with family and friends. I’m grateful for my time on the water.

As you know, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) issued a swimming advisory in early June which has continued into August. After too long of a delay, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was able to pull its second samples from the upper Blackwater on Tuesday, August 8th. We are hopeful for some good news soon that the advisory is being lifted.

Advocacy to protect the health of Smith Mountain Lake is needed now more than ever. We will do our part and invite you to join us. Make your voice heard.

Our Role as Steward of the Lake

This summer’s Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB), and subsequent VDH swimming advisory, negatively affected all of us. It’s become clear that our leadership and mission to protect the water of Smith Mountain Lake needs to be amplified and we’re up for the challenge.

Our website’s HAB Resource Center will continue to be a central location for information and updates. We’ll keep posting on Facebook and Instagram too. And most importantly, we’ll continue to email you with important updates that we believe you’ll find relevant.

As previously mentioned, our Lake Quality Council (LQC) has organized a HAB working group that includes private and public representation from Bedford, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties. The group’s three primary objectives are:

  • Broad and accurate communication to the entire lake community
  • Employ more of our own tools and techniques to identify what’s happening with lake water
  • Promote suggestions, solutions and resources to protect the health of SML

One of the working group’s initial tasks is to recommend alternatives to increase testing capabilities in conjunction with our local, county and state partners. While we appreciate the support received from all stakeholders, Smith Mountain Lake – and all Virginia inland waterways – need more funding. Please join us to advocate for SML.
Click Here for More about SML Advocacy

Shoreline Management Plan (SMP)

It’s time for Appalachian Power Company (APC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review the Smith Mountain Lake Shoreline Management Plan (SMP).

Later this week, you will receive an email from me asking for your input on the 2024 SMP. John Rupnik (our past president) and Keri Green (LQC Chair) are leading this work for SMLA.

Additionally, the Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission (TLAC) is hosting a listening session on September 11th at 4:00 pm for SMLA members at the TLAC office on Scruggs Road.

A benefit of your SMLA membership is the opportunity to share your input about lake matters. Please look for my email, reply with your suggestions and join the discussion with TLAC.

Save the Date


Friday September 29th

Our annual meeting is September 29th at Trinity Ecumenical Parish. Doors open at 5:30 pm with light appetizers, sweets and coffee, plus educational displays. This is an opportunity to meet our Board of Directors, ask questions, and enjoy learning more about our lake quality and water safety programs.

The business meeting begins at 6:30 pm. Mr. Neil Holthouser, Senior Environmental Coordinator for Appalachian Power Company, is our guest speaker. Join us and bring your neighbors and friends to this free event.

Annual Awards

Each year at our Annual Meeting, SMLA recognizes individuals and groups who have made significant contributions to the Smith Mountain Lake community over the past year, or an extended time period.

Nominations for the Melvin S. Johnston Citizen Volunteer Award and the Spirit of the Lake Award are being accepted until August 31st. Visit our website to learn more and submit your nomination.

Click Here for the Annual Awards

Water Quality Monitoring

Our water quality monitoring program has completed the 2023 season.

To quote Tom Hardy, Chair of the SMLA Water Quality Monitoring Program, “The most notable result for this year is that the nutrient phosphorous has been very much in line with the averages over the past 20 years, despite the unprecedented number of algal blooms we have experienced in 2023. This result holds even when we parse the data into specific sections of the lake (upper Blackwater, Gills Creek, lower Blackwater, upper Roanoke, lower Roanoke, Craddock Creek, or near the Dam). This suggests that some trigger or combination of triggers other than phosphorous may be responsible for the algal blooms we have experienced in 2023. Chlorophyll-a concentrations, representing the levels of algae in the lake, have been roughly 50% higher than historical averages this year. This is consistent with the recurring algal blooms observed in the lake this year.”

SMLA 2000

We’re making progress toward our of goal of 2,000 members. Thank you for your help with spreading the word about the good work we’re doing to protect and preserve SML. Please share our message.

Save the Date
Volunteer Appreciation Celebration
Friday, October 20th

In Memory of Pete Lewis

SMLA recently lost a friend and pioneer in SML’s water safety program. Pictured here, Pete Lewis is recognized by then SMLA President Lorie Smith.

Pete Lewis’ contributions on our Board of Directors and Water Safety Council (WSC) are indeed noteworthy. During his long tenure, Pete served as the Association’s President, WSC Chairman, and on the U.S. Power Squadron Executive Committee. His contributions focused on anything related to water cleanliness and safety. Pete’s pragmatic leadership approach demanded commitment and excellence. He always stepped up, got involved and volunteered his time. If there was a project connected with water quality, safety, or kids – Pete was in the middle of it. He also teamed with others making repeated trips to Richmond, meeting with Delegates and Senators, and campaigning for Boater Education. His work is largely responsible for today’s Virginia’s Boater Education Requirement – a huge milestone for the Commonwealth and SML’s boating safety.

Rest in Peace brother, we will miss your bright smile and dry sense of humor. You made a true difference for your community. Godspeed.