Harmful Algal Blooms

Harmful Algal Blooms Resource Center

Information and Resources about Harmful Algal Blooms and how they are affecting SML.

HAB online report form

VDH requests that citizens report what appear to be conditions on the water surface that may be cyanobacteria blooms. Information required is location, name and contact information, and a photograph. Helpful information includes latitude and longitude which you can get from Google maps. Open Google maps and enter your home address (or address where reporting bloom from), and right click on the map where you see the bloom. The coordinates will pop up in a window which you can put into the report form. This helps DEQ if they need to collect a sample. Reminder, a photograph is critically important as part of your submittal.

HAB Website

The VDH maintains a website that provides significant information to citizens about HABs. 

Virginia Department of Environment Quality

Water quality monitoring stations DEQ regularly monitors. Zoom to search at Smith Mountain Lake, toggle data layers on right to select Water Quality Monitoring Layers. Select individual stations for data.

What can Residents do to Protect the Water of SML?


Smith Mountain Lake residents are encouraged to contact their Virginia State legislators about the health of SML.  Share your thoughts, experiences and concerns.

Buffer Gardens.  

Buffer gardens are the single most effective solution for lake-front residents interested in protecting the water of Smith Mountain Lake.  Buffer landscaping consists of vegetation planted near the lakeshore to trap sediments and to filter nutrients and pollutants.  A green lawn without a buffer garden leads to a green lake.

Septic Management. 

Proper septic system maintenance and periodic septic tank pumping is critical to avoid raw sewage from seeping into the lake.  Have you had your septic system inspected recently?

Save our Streams. 

The condition of the streams that flow into Smith Mountain Lake are a leading indicator about the health of the lake.  The Smith Mountain Lake Association combines forces with two other organizations – the Virginia Save Our Streams Program and the Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program – to conduct semi-annual stream monitoring at 16 locations around the lake.

Vessel Pump Out Program.

Smith Mountain Lake is a designated no discharge zone.  It is illegal to release any wastewater into the lake. Boats docked at 19 marinas on SML are eligible for free pump out services from May 20th to September 10th.  Don’t poo in the blue.

Pet Waste.

When your dogs poop on their daily walks, we pick it up, right? Those little baggies go into the trash, when you get home. What about when you let those puppies out into the yard? Someone might pick up those fun little presents, but where do you dispose of them? Do you chuck them into the woods or put them into the trash? Believe it or not, pet waste contains nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrates which can be washed directly into the lake when it rains. Prevent nutrients from entering the lake by tossing pet waste into the trash.

Goose Control.

Did you know that one pound of goose poop contains enough phosphorus to lead to the growth of 1,200 pounds of algal bloom? It may seem impossible to keep geese off your yard, but there is one good way to do it, and that is by planting a buffer garden. Geese will not climb up riprap and come onto a lawn with a barrier of grass or other dense plantings at least 12 inches high. These plantations are a simple barrier to goose invasion as well as a good filter for nutrients coming off your lawn.

Join SMLA.

The Smith Mountain Lake Association is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that relies on memberships and grants to fund the programs that keep Smith Mountain Lake clean and safe.  With over 11,000 individual lake front property owners and hundreds of local businesses supported by the lake area economy, SMLA could enhance, increase and expand its efforts to protect Smith Mountain Lake if it had more than its current 1,000 individual, family and business partner members.  Be a Steward of the Lake and join us!


Are you already a member?  Do you vacation at Smith Mountain Lake?  Would you like to ensure the lake is enjoyed be generations that follow.  Please donate to the Smith Mountain Lake Association.  It’s tax deductible.

More Information

Water Quality Monitoring Program.

The Smith Mountain Lake Association and Ferrum College have been monitoring the water quality of SML for over 37 years.  Each summer, Ferrum College faculty and students, along with SMLA volunteers, monitor the lake water for nutrients, bacteria, and algal blooms.