February 2024

February 2024

Greetings from SMLA President Bill Butterfield
Normally February finds me with having to search for topics to inform you of what’s happening at SMLA. Not true this year!

SMLA Water Quality Monitoring Capabilities Expand

The work of our Lake Quality Council (LQC) has not slowed down over the winter months. In fact, it has sped up as new microscopes and equipment have arrived for our new laboratory and NOAA training begins this month.

This effort has been funded by donations through our Make a Splash campaign. We appreciate every donation. I am super excited to see this broadening of SMLA water quality capabilities and we shall keep you informed of our progress.

Working to Keep SML Safe

The work of our Water Safety Council (WSC) has not slowed down either. They are busy updating their printed safety materials, planning on new safety videos, offering boat safety inspections, participating in community events throughout the calendar year, and so much more.

Sharing HAB Facts

Last year during the Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) outbreak, SMLA took action to fulfill its mission to protect the water at SML. We saw there was an enormous void of factual information regarding the HAB outbreak. We stepped in to fill that void by adding HAB information at our website and Facebook page.

This informational content was intended to inform the SML community what the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) and Department of Health (VDH) was reporting. We did not, and will not, editorialize opinions about what these two governmental bodies report.

Our role is to share factual information. Last year revealed a few deficiencies in the process of monitoring for and reporting HAB at SML that we are collaborating with other stakeholders to address.

Lake Quality Council Update

The SMLA Dock Watch Program Gets Going!

Over 25 volunteers have been trained by a NOAA scientist in microscope identification of target cyanobacteria species, These are the algae-like organisms responsible for the Swimming Advisory last year in the Blackwater arm of SML.

Smith Mountain Lake Association has joined the nationwide NOAA Phytoplankton Monitoring Network as a Citizen Science team to assist in the tracking of cyanobacteria throughout the year. Our volunteers will collect water samples at 20 docks around the lake, every two weeks, and inspect them using one loaner microscope from NOAA and one that we recently purchased with Make A Splash funds.

The Dock Watch Program goal is to monitor for increases in abundance of cyanobacteria at our docks, which is where many of us swim and recreate. Long term, the program will be able to monitor seasonal and other dynamic trends throughout the year.

The program will not provide data on toxicity, cell counts or other parameters for which the DEQ is responsible. We hope to be able to guide and accelerate future state efforts if and when conditions indicate that a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) might be occurring, through this program as well.

Stay tuned for updates as we get started in early April.

Committee Updates

A Day At The Lake

Save the Date! On June 8 our free interactive community event returns to Crazy Horse Marina (now Goodhue Boat Company, Blackwater) from 11 am – 4 pm. A Day At The Lake is dedicated to protecting the waters of SML and promoting safe recreation. This year’s event will be bigger, better, and more fun! Lake lovers of all ages are welcome.

Water Quality Monitoring

The final report of the 2023 Water Quality Monitoring season has just been published. You can view or download the report on the SMLA website. This 89-page report contains detailed information about the 2023 monitoring conducted by our team of 53 citizen volunteers in collaboration with a team of students and faculty from Ferrum College.

SMLA will present a webinar on March 26 at 4 pm to discuss the findings of the report and take questions. A recording of the webinar will be posted on the SMLA website. Details regarding how to register for the webinar will be provided at the SMLA website.

Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake, SML’s annual cleanup initiative, will take place on May 4 at various locations around the lake.

Neighborhood groups, businesses, families, civic organizations and others are invited to participate in the organized event or plan their own cleanup anytime in May.

As in past years, volunteers who pre-register will receive a free T-shirt, work gloves, heavy duty trash bags and an invitation to a post-event celebration dinner. TPISML is also looking to add members to its organizing committee to help coordinate the effort. For more details, visit TakePrideSML.com.

All donations will be used to establish the SMLA Dock Watch Program, increase water quality monitoring in the lake and tributaries, and share safe boating messages with residents and visitors.

Click Here to Donate and make a SPLASH