Thanks to the generous support of SMLA members, who donated to our make a SPLASH fundraising campaign, we are launching SMLA Dock Watch. This new program will monitor Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) activity at dock locations around Smith Mountain Lake in 2024.
By collecting water samples at docks throughout the year, and examining them under a microscope, SMLA will be better able to understand activity levels of cyanobacteria and keep an eye on trends throughout the year.
Even if you don’t have a dock, but still want to be involved, you can be trained to collect water samples and use a laboratory-grade microscope to identify cyanobacteria, take photographs, and upload data to the Phytoplankton Monitoring Network.
Our data will enhance the national database which is used to monitor and research emerging HAB trends. And we will be able to identify and track HAB activity at our docks, with rapid results, all year.
The growing threat of HABs at SML, as evidenced by last summer’s Swimming Advisories on the Blackwater, requires us to begin monitoring at dock locations, our most common recreation contact point with the lake. Normal water quality monitoring performed by SMLA, Ferrum College, and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is conducted in main channel locations rather than docks or shorelines.Keri Green, Chair of SMLA’s Lake Quality Council
Water Sampling: commitment to collect a water sample at your dock, once every other week, year-round, and deliver the sample to the SMLA Office on Scruggs Road within 24 hours of your sample collection. If this is a challenge, a team of neighbors could also combine efforts to keep up with the sampling events.
Microscope Technicians: commitment to one day every few weeks at the SMLA office to operate the microscopes and upload the data.
Materials, such as sample bottles, gloves, water clarity device (secchi disk), thermometer, preservatives, and sample transport containers will be provided.
Training will also be provided, and it is scheduled for February 21st at the SMLA office on Scruggs Road. All materials and training are free of charge. We just need your time and help to make this successful.
SMLA Dock Watch is aligned with the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science’s Phytoplankton Monitoring Network. This program engages citizen scientists in a community-based network of volunteers to watch for HABs.
SMLA Dock Watch is scheduled to kick off the first week of April 2024 and run year-round. At the present time, the program can support a limited number of docks and locations. As more donations are received, we will be able purchase additional equipment and supplies, and expand SMLA Dock Watch to more sites around the lake.
SMLA launched Make a SPLASH last month with a goal of raising $100,000 to keep SML clean and safe. In the first few weeks, over $7,000 has been raised. These initial donations are being used to launch the SMLA Dock Watch program.
make a SPLASH funds will also be used to expand monitoring work in the SML watershed and to amplify the importance of safe boating.
It was an easy decision to donate to SMLA. If we all pitch in and protect the lake, everyone benefits.Tina Brown, an avid kayaker and SMLA member