Skip to main content

Debris Management and Removal

Any large body of water can gather floating or suspended debris, particularly after slow moving storms or unrestricted run-off. Much of this is natural, but there is a growing amount of man-made debris that flows into Smith Mountain Project as a result of upstream carelessness, poor environmental mitigation or littering along tributaries and shorelines.

Our goal, first and foremost, is to maintain safe and clear waterways in main channels after heavy inflow events, but your help is critical for a timely response. If you see debris that needs attention, report it so we can prioritize removing it.

Report debrisSee debris examples

Debris Management PlanRead about our approach to debris identification and removal for Smith Mountain and Leesville Lakes.

Common questions about lake debris

Appalachian Power 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.

Appalachian Power'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.

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

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.

No. Embedded debris in the back of a cove is a beneficial habitat to aquatic and terrestrial species. We also will not remove any debris that is still attached to the shoreline that is not a navigation hazard. However, we will remove accumulated debris in the back of a cove if it is accessible by our equipment and it originated from a high flow event.

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

If the barrel is not full, please report it using the report debris form or by calling 1.800.956.4237.

Debris deposited along shoreline rip rap is not removed due to potential damage to private property. For photos and descriptions of debris that can and cannot be removed, visit our debris examples page.

The floating barge with a push boat and mechanized shovel shown above is one of two in the Smith Mountain Project fleet. One barge is fully dedicated to debris removal at Leesville Lake.
A rig comprised of interlocking barge pieces, up to two large on-board debris containers, a tracked and mechanized grabber/shovel and a diesel push boat is now assigned to Smith Mountain Lake. This equipment has dramatically increased the company’s ability to quickly remove large amounts of debris from the waterway.