Smith Mountain Lake Water Quality | Vicki Millehan

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