Appalachian Power plans to continue its increased debris removal efforts at Smith Mountain and Leesville lakes as a result of recent heavy rains and high inflows from its rivers and tributaries.
Following two major storms that swept through the area in May, the company added additional staff and increased hours to assist in removing debris. Three crews — two from Appalachian Power and one contractor — removed more than 1,700 tons of debris from the lakes last month. In comparison, only 1,468 tons of debris were removed in the first four months of the year.
Crews will continue increased efforts through most of June to remove floating hazards consisting of natural debris such as tree limbs, trunks and other large vegetation.
“The recent rain events have brought a tremendous amount of debris into the rivers, lakes and coves,” said David Agee, who coordinates debris removal for Appalachian Power. “We appreciate the patience from the shoreline property owners and businesses while our teams work to remove debris as quickly and as safely as they can.”
Recent surveys of Smith Mountain and Leesville lakes show large amounts of floating debris on the Roanoke River, in the main channel and along shorelines on the Blackwater River and near the dam on Leesville Lake.
Specific areas of concern are:
n Between channel markers R32-R50, R56-60 and R68-R73 on the Roanoke River.
n Near the Leesville Lake forebay where debris broke the boat barrier and from mile marker 1-3 along the main channel and shorelines.
n Between channel markers B46-B49 in the main channel and both shorelines on the Blackwater River.
Appalachian’s contractor is currently working on the Roanoke River, the area hit hardest with debris. The Smith Mountain Lake crew is currently working on the upper end of the Blackwater River between channel markers B36-49. The Leesville Lake crew is currently working between Leesville Dam and mile marker 12.
Appalachian consults with its debris technical review committee on work locations. Committee members include representatives from the Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission, the Smith Mountain Lake Association, the Leesville Lake Association and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Appalachian urges boaters on Smith Mountain and Leesville lakes to stay aware of floating debris on the water or just below the surface. Tree limbs, trunks and other objects could cause major damage to watercraft and injure occupants.
Boaters are asked to move floating debris safely and secure it to the shore if possible. Debris removal priority starts with main channel first, then along the shoreline and in the coves. Lake residents and boaters can report debris by visiting www.smithmountainproject.com.