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How is the water quality at Smith Mountain Lake?

One of the most frequent questions my team and I are asked is: How is the water quality at Smith Mountain Lake? I’m happy to report that, thanks to the hard work of a large corps of volunteers, scientists and educators, Smith Mountain Lake water quality is among the best of any lake on the East Coast.

Buffer garden at Smith Mountain Lake

A buffer garden along the shoreline helps protect the lake by catching debris and pollutants before they reach the water.

Water quality at Smith Mountain Lake is closely monitored

A healthy lake benefits all who enjoy it and increases Smith Mountain Lake real estate values. Since 1987, volunteers with the Smith Mountain Lake Association have worked in conjunction with scientists at Ferrum College to administer the Smith Mountain Lake Water Quality Program.

At various times throughout the year, volunteers who live on all parts of Smith Mountain Lake measure and track secchi depth (water clarity), concentration of harmful bacteria, dissolved oxygen concentration and other parameters to ensure everything is within a healthy range. At the end of each summer, their work results in a 100-page scientific report, which is available on the Ferrum College web site.

The joint program also keeps residents and tourists informed of Smith Mountain Lake water quality on its Facebook page and via Twitter using the handle @FerrumWaterQlty.

Tips for helping keep Smith Mountain Lake clean

  1. If you own a Smith Mountain Lake home, consider planting a buffer garden along the shoreline. Trees, shrubs and other grass-like plants protect the lake by catching debris and pollutants before they reach the water. According to the SML Association, buffer landscaping:
  • slows and filters storm water run-off
  • protects the value of your property
  • requires less maintenance
  • creates a natural frame for your water view
  • provides a natural habitat for wildlife

For more detailed information on buffer landscaping at Smith Mountain Lake, visit the SMLA website.

2. Avoid raking or blowing leaves into the lake. Doing so reduces oxygen in the water and adds nutrients that assist with algae growth. Both situations negatively affect water quality.

3. When fertilizing your Smith Mountain Lake landscape, be sure and choose products labeled low-phosphorous. Avoid fertilizing in the spring when rain is more likely to cause erosion and leach residue into the lake.

4. Take advantage of the “Royal Flush,” Smith Mountain Lake’s free vessel pump out service. SML is a no-discharge zone so it’s illegal to dump any waste (treated or untreated) into the lake. Luckily, two sanitation trucks are available on Saturdays and Sundays (plus holidays) late May through early September to pump out your vessel at a number of marinas around the lake. The program is a joint effort by the SMLA, Tri-County Lake Administration and the Virginia Department of Health. Boaters are encouraged to call in advance to make an appointment. Find more details on the TLAC website.

If you have a question about Smith Mountain Lake or real estate at Smith Mountain Lake, I’m happy to find the answer. Please contact me at your convenience.


Related info:

Smith Mountain Lake Water Level (updated hourly)

Take Pride in SML Cleanup Day

Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour a can’t-miss event

The Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour, one of the area’s most popular and beloved annual events, takes place each October over Columbus Day weekend.

Petrine Home, Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour

Courtesy of Carla Laseter

Offering visitors a look inside a number of spectacular lakefront homes, the self-guided Home Tour is a can’t-miss event for those who looking for Smith Mountain Lake building, decorating and landscaping inspiration. The event features eight homes accessible by land and water, which makes for a fun fall boating outing. (Volunteers are available at each home to help with docking.)

Proceeds from the Home Tour benefit eight charities in the Smith Mountain Lake region. The non-profit organizations must apply each year to be eligible for funds. Since the Home Tour started in 1991 more than $3.8 million has been distributed.

What can you expect on the SML Home Tour?

It’s best to buy tickets in advance online or at an area outlet, although you can purchase tickets at any of the homes. The tickets are good for all three days (Friday-Sunday) so you can tackle all eight homes on one day or spread the fun out over 2-3 days.

Because the homes are often in different areas around the lake, it’s usually best to take two days. You may start at any of the eight homes and there is no set order in which to visit them. Each ticket comes with a brochure that includes a map and directions by boat and by car. You can also download directions and a brochure on the SML Charity Home Tour website where you’ll also find photos and a description of each home.

I recommend you plot your route in advance and plan for approximately 45 minutes at each home. Volunteers are on hand throughout the interior and exterior of each home to share information about architecture, decorating, collections, special features, landscaping and more.

Snyder Home, Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour

Courtesy of Carla Laseter

Find out more about the Charity Home Tour at Smith Mountain Lake

Read more on the Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour’s 25-year history in the Sept/Oct issue of Laker Magazine. Laker Weekly also has detailed coverage and photos of each home.

Home Tour organizers produce an annual guide with additional details and sponsor information, which you can pick up at all eight homes.

Ready to look for your own Smith Mountain Lake home or lot?

If you’re going to be in town and are interesting in looking at Smith Mountain Lake property, I hope you’ll contact me. I’d love to show you around!


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The Water’s Edge Country Club | Smith Mountain Lake Neighborhoods

The Water’s Edge is a stunning 720-acre community with more than 13 miles of shoreline on the south side of Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. With an award-winning golf course, private country club, breathtaking water and mountain views and a wide variety of options for luxury real estate at Smith Mountain Lake, The Water’s Edge is among the most sought-after addresses at SML.


Real Estate at The Water’s Edge Country Club

The Water’s Edge has more than 600 home sites, including luxury homes, condos, townhomes and building lots. The Water’s Edge homes for sale range from low-maintenance patio homes to luxurious waterfront estates. A number of individual communities – The Grande Villas, Village Green, Golfer’s Crossing and Marina Bay Condominiums – offer even more flexibility for part-time or full-time residents. The beautiful on-site equestrian center also makes The Water’s Edge horse properties popular.

See all homes for sale at The Water’s Edge or set up an appointment for personal tour by contacting Vicki Millehan or Debbie Shelton.

Country Club Amenities

The Water’s Edge is the perfect place for your friends and family to enjoy the best of Smith Mountain Lake golf, boating, dining, equestrian, tennis and swimming. This world-class country club offers:

  • Private, 18-hole PGA Championship golf courses redesigned in 2007 by nationally renowned golf course architect Richard Mandell
  • Driving range, putting green and pro shop
  • PGA Golf Professional on staff for private and group golf lessons
  • Men’s and ladies’ golf associations with weekly play and in-season tournaments
  • 28,000-square-foot luxury clubhouse
  • Gourmet dining
  • Multiple bar areas and outdoor patios
  • Facilities for private functions such as weddings and business meetings
  • Member socials and parties
  • Tennis courts
  • Junior Olympic-sized pool and children’s wading pool
  • Fitness facilities
  • Equestrian center with boarding services, riding arena and 175 acres of horseback riding trails with scenic lake views
  • Marina
  • Paved walking trails
  • Golf and social memberships available


The Water’s Edge is located in Franklin County, Virginia. Students attend Glade Hill Elementary School, Benjamin Franklin Middle School and Franklin County High School. There are also several nearby private schools, including Smith Mountain Lake Christian Academy, Christian Heritage Academy, Carlisle, Chatham Hall, Hargrave Military Academy and Heritage Academy.


The Water’s Edge Country Club offers gourmet cuisine for lunch and dinner in a casual atmosphere. The Eastroom Lounge overlooks the golf course and is a popular spot for members to gather for drinks and socializing. Just outside The Water’s Edge community are several restaurants, including Carl’s Place, a quaint diner that serves old-fashioned country favorites.

Many residents enjoy traveling by boat to Smith Mountain Lake waterfront restaurants. The Landing, Mexico Viejo, King’s Point Pub, Mitchell’s Restaurant and Heath’s Waterfront Grill are all convenient by water to The Water’s Edge.


Residents of The Water’s Edge generally head to Westlake Corner for shopping at Smith Mountain Lake with Rocky Mount and Gretna also nearby. All offer grocery stores, clothing boutiques, jewelry stores, home and garden outlets, sporting goods and gift stores. Popular Smith Mountain Lake shopping centers include Westlake Towne Center, Bridgewater Plaza and Downtown Moneta.

Additional Resources

Ask a question, set up an appointment or order your free Insider’s Guide to Smith Mountain Lake by contacting Vicki Millehan or Debbie Shelton.

Visit The Water’s Edge Country Club website

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The Cottages at Contentment Island homes for sale

The Waterfront Country Club homes for sale

The Boardwalk homes for sale

The Farm homes for sale

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