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Debris Management Plan

Frequently Asked Questions

What part of the year does Appalachian remove debris from the lakes?

Appalachian is required to remove floating debris from Smith Mountain Lake and Leesville Lake from April through October, and following high flow events resulting from heavy precipitation on a year-round basis.

Is there a priority procedure that Appalachian goes by to remove debris?

Appalachian's first priority is to remove debris from the main channels, followed by debris located along the shoreline which has the potential to reach the main channel, and the lowest priority is debris located in coves.

There is debris in and around my dock. Will Appalachian remove it?

Appalachian is not required to remove debris from in and around private homes and businesses; Appalachian may do so where safe conditions exist and where no damage to personal property may occur.

There are floating logs moving down the main channel of the lake, whom do I call?

Please report logs floating in the main channel to American Electric Power using the Report Debris form or by calling 1-800-956-4237. Please be prepared to report which lake (Smith Mountain or Leesville), the location e.g. the nearest lateral mark (channel marker) and, a description of the debris (e.g. 10 foot floating log). Please also be prepared to provide your contact information in case additional information is needed.

There is embedded debris in the back of my cove. Will Appalachian remove it?

Embedded woody debris in the back of a cove is considered to be beneficial habitat to aquatic and terrestrial species. Appalachian will not be removing beneficial woody debris that is embedded in the backs of coves or that is still attached to the shoreline and is not a navigation hazard.

There is a barrel floating down the main channel. Whom should I contact?

If the barrel is full, dial 911 so that the appropriate individuals trained in determining whether or not the contents would be considered hazardous are contacted.

What does Appalachian Power Company’s debris removal equipment look like?

Debris Skimmer

This floating work barge with a push boat and mechanized shovel is the second one at the Smith Mountain Project and has been dedicated full time for debris removal at Leesville Lake.


New Skimmer Rig

A completely new rig comprising interlocking barge pieces, up to two large on-board debris containers, a tracked and mechanized grabber/shovel and a diesel push boat are now assigned to Smith Mountain Lake. The new equipment has dramatically increased the company’s ability to more quickly remove large amounts of debris from the waterway.


What are examples of debris that can and cannot be removed?

Example of debris accumulation after a high flow event.  This type of debris in the main channel would be removed.


Fallen timber attached to shoreline. Trees become inundated with water during
normal operations creating fish habitat. This debris would not be removed by Appalachian due to its habitat value.


Fallen timber attached to shoreline as well as floating woody debris. Attached material would not be removed.  The unattached material may be removed but it would not be a high priority since it does not create a navigation hazard. 


Example of beneficial, complex habitat (root ball) secured in a near shore location.  Appalachian would not remove this debris.


Fallen timber still attached to shoreline creates complex fish habitat with no navigational issues. Appalachian would not remove this woody debris due to its habitat value. 


Small cove of debris including large and small natural debris as well as man-made debris. Appalachian would not remove the attached material.  The unattached material and the manmade material may be removed (or natural material secured in place) but it would not be a high priority since it does not create a navigation hazard.


Cove near public access ramp full of man-made and small natural debris. Material would be removed due to high volume of man-made debris throughout the cove in a highly visual location next to public access ramp.


Embedded timber and root wads on shoals marked by navigational buoys. Debris would remain as it creates fish habitat within an area marked as non-navigational.


Floating tree within the navigational channel. This material would be removed.


Various woody debris with much of it attached providing complex fish habitat.  Appalachian would not remove this debris due to its habitat value. Floating debris may be secured in place.  


Natural debris within a cove. This is quality aquatic habitat and should remain in place when possible including forested coves, protected coves, undeveloped coves, and areas less prone to wind transport of debris.