Water Quality Monitoring

Monitoring the Waters of Smith Mountain Lake Since 1987

SMLA monitors our lake for key parameters indicative of the water quality of the lake. The result of this monitoring provides us with a long term view of the natural aging of the lake, helps identify specific problem areas that can be addressed to improve water quality, and enables SMLA to alert the public to any instances of elevated harmful algae or bacteria concentrations. SMLA stewardship efforts have helped maintain the favorable trophic status of the lake over the past 20 years based on key metrics.

The summer marks our 36th year of monitoring the quality of the water in SML and the rivers and streams that feed the lake. We have approximately 55 citizen volunteers who monitor 84 sites around the lake during the summer. Every two weeks during the summer these volunteers donate an hour of their time to collect water samples and water clarity readings from their own boat. The samples are analyzed by scientists at nearby Ferrum College, and the results are combined with the water clarity readings to calculate an overall Trophic State Index, a measure of water quality. The resulting data are reported back to the volunteer monitors, SMLA members, the public, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Virginia Department of Health. If there is an issue with the quality of the water SMLA promptly alerts these same constituents.

To learn more or to become a Water Quality Monitor, contact Tom Hardy, Director of SMLA Water Quality Monitoring at theoffice@smlassociation.org or call the SMLA office at (540) 719-0690. It is easy, fun and rewarding to know that as a monitor you are promoting good stewardship of this beautiful lake. All you need to bring is your boat, a cooler for storing water samples, and a life jacket. Monitoring equipment and training will be provided; no prior experience is required. There is an annual kickoff meeting for volunteer monitors every May to review results of prior year monitoring and to hear plans for the upcoming season; please call or e-mail for details.

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