Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission

JASON DUNOVANT, The Roanoke Times

The Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission is taking a closer look at sedimentation that has slowly been encroaching into Smith Mountain Lake.

 

The commission has formed a work group tasked with getting a better grasp of the issue.

TLAC board members all voiced their support of the work group at the commission’s regular meeting held Tuesday. The decision came following a presentation by John Cooper who has seen sedimentation slowly build up at his lakefront home near channel marker B49.

 

Cooper said there was previously another channel marker beyond B49, but it was removed by Appalachian Power Co. due to the lake being difficult to navigate beyond that point due to shallow water caused by sedimentation buildup. He fears channel marker B49 may soon be removed as well.

 

Sedimentation is a natural occurrence, especially in impoundments like Smith Mountain Lake, formed by two dams that generate electricity for the utility company. Efforts such as dredging, which Cooper had done around his dock in 2023, can remove large amounts sedimentation. Unfortunately, it is likely to continue filling in again.

 

“Bottom line: if we don’t do anything, it is going to continue,” Cooper said.

TLAC Chairman Lorie Smith said sedimentation filling in portions of Smith Mountain Lake is not only a concern for lakefront residents, but the surrounding counties as well. She said the spread of sedimentation could fill in sections of the lake and lead to lakefront homes no longer being lakefront.

The sedimentation could eventually cause a drop in home values in areas of the lake impacted which could impact overall county revenue. Smith said 63% of Franklin County’s real estate tax revenue comes from the Gills Creek District that includes the lake.

“I personally think we can’t afford to do nothing,” said TLAC board member and Pittsylvania County supervisor Darrell Dalton.

Smith suggested forming a task force consisting of lake residents and business owners as well as representatives from Appalachian Power, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The goal, she said, would be a deeper understanding of how sedimentation is impacting the lake as well as some possible ways to slow its spread.

Cooper said he had reached out to Lure Lake in North Carolina and discovered they had been awarded a $950,000 grant from the state to handle sedimentation in that lake. He suggested similar state funding could be available for Smith Mountain Lake.

With a consensus agreement from the TLAC board, Smith said work would begin on a proposal for the creation of a sedimentation task force with guidelines that would be presented at the next scheduled meeting in April.

Jason Dunovant (540) 981-3507

jason.dunovant@roanoke.com