Annual ban of underwater excavation in effect at Smith Mountain Project lakes

ROANOKE, Va., Feb. 15, 2017 – Appalachian Power reminds residents and property owners at Smith Mountain and Leesville lakes that dredging and excavation are prohibited between February 15 and June 15 every year and are now in effect.

The restriction on the underwater work coincides with fish spawning season.  Smith Mountain and Leesville lakes are home to a variety of aquatic wildlife species which depend on undisturbed nesting areas for development of eggs.  Fish are sensitive to changes in water temperatures, sunlight penetration and water quality in their spawning habitats.

Additionally, dock construction work—including pile driving—between April 15 and June 15 must be careful to avoid nesting sites for largemouth bass.

Dredging and excavation activities may resume after June 15.  

Underwater dredging could be among planned projects during warm weather, but property owners and contractors must remember that there are requirements and restrictions.

According to Appalachian Power’s Shoreline Management Plan (SMP), maintenance dredging is generally allowed within an existing boat slip and fairway area. But retaining shallow water habitat and avoiding disturbance of fish spawning areas are important to the lake’s ecology.

There are established guidelines for dredging inside the project boundary that are within the oversight of federal or state agencies and Appalachian. Here are a few key requirements:

  • Dredging and/or excavation of all designated wetland areas are prohibited.

  • Dredging less than 25 cubic yards of underwater material may be allowed in certain cases, but Appalachian must be contacted 10 days prior to work.

  • If more than 25 cubic yards are to be dredged, permits must be obtained from Appalachian before work begins.

  • Persons must obtain written Department of the Army authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, prior to commencing work.Contact information can be found at http://www.nao.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/ or by calling (757) 201-7652 

Requirements for all these activities on both lakes can be found beginning on page 71 of the SMP at http://www.smithmtn.com/ShorelineMgmt/Plan/UpdatedSMP03_05_14.pdf  

If you have questions about dredging or excavating at Smith Mountain or Leesville lakes, contact the Appalachian Power Shoreline Management team at (540) 985-2982, email aepainter@aep.com  , or visit with a company representative available every Friday from1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Smith Mountain Lake Association offices, 400 Scruggs Road, Suite 2100, Moneta, VA 24151.

Smith Mountain Project is a 636-megawatt pumped storage hydroelectric facility owned and operated by Appalachian Power on the Roanoke River. It utilizes an upper reservoir (Smith Mountain Lake) and a lower reservoir (Leesville Lake).  Water stored in Smith Mountain Lake passes through turbine-generators in the powerhouse to produce electricity and is discharged into Leesville Lake.  From there some water is released through the Leesville Dam or pumped back into Smith Mountain. The Smith Mountain Project celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016.






John Shepelwich

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