8/3/2017
Appalachian Power builds up its response to increased debris in Leesville Lake


ROANOKE, Va., Aug. 3, 2017 – Appalachian Power has increased debris removal response at its Smith Mountain Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project—especially on Leesville Lake—to contend with increased loading of mostly-natural debris there.

Appalachian Power and users of watercraft on Leesville have seen a consistent amount of debris floating on the water surface or just below the surface this summer despite efforts by the company and contractors to remove it. At times, larger plumes of interlocked debris can be seen on the surface.

“To date this year, the company has removed more than 400 tons of debris from Leesville Lake,” said Larry Jackson, Appalachian Power’s external affairs director for Virginia/Tennessee. “This is a significant amount of debris in comparison to amounts removed previously from the Leesville reservoir for the entire year.”

For example, in 2015, 171 tons were removed, while in 2016, 528 tons were removed. Based on those numbers, the company is on track to break previous records primarily due to the addition of new equipment and the amount of debris loading that was received earlier in the year. Much of the current debris loading and sediment relocation can be attributed to the removal of the Power Dam on the Pigg River which empties into Leesville. The company is hopeful that those environmental dynamics balance out in the near future.

"Over the past couple of years, Appalachian has added more than $1 million of new debris removal equipment on both reservoirs and has added Saturday to the work schedule for our removal crews for the near future,” Jackson said. “Personnel from other areas of the organization will be included in the effort when possible and we plan to extend the debris season at Leesville into November of this year as weather and circumstances allow.”

“We are already seeing some results,” he said. “On Saturday, July29, our crew worked in the Brumfield area of Leesville and was able to remove an additional 30 tons of debris.”

Boaters are urged to be vigilant and keep an eye out for floating debris that could cause damage to their watercraft or injury to passengers. Signs warning of the debris are posted at public boat ramps.

Information on the type of debris that Appalachian Power removes, frequently asked questions, and photographs are available to shoreline residents and others in the Smith Mountain Debris Management Plan at http://www.smithmtn.com/DebrisMgmtPlan/Default.aspx

Smith Mountain Project is a 636-megawatt pumped storage hydroelectric facility on the Roanoke River that 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 project is operated by Appalachian Power.                                                                                                       

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John Shepelwich
Corporate Communications
jeshepelwich@aep.com

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