Algal blooms in Smith Mountain Lake have toxins
Smith Mountain Lake is a popular spot in the summer and unique because it is a man-made lake, unlike Mountain Lake in Giles County and Lake Drummond in the Dismal Swamp in Chesapeake and Suffolk which are Virginia's two natural lakes. The Virginia Department of Health has issued an advisory notice according to WDBJ 7 for swimmers because "unprecedented amounts of dangerous algal blooms" have been found in certain parts of the water at SML. Boaters, fishers, and Kayakers are not in any danger as long as they wash after with clean water.
The harmful algal has been studied for about 12 years and this year it is taking longer for the blooms to go away on their own. This situation is caused by runoff and the algal flourish in high temperatures and sunlight. In the past, there were no problems, and the toxins diminished quickly on their own. the current situation has been described as "unprecedented" for Smith Mountain Lake so this is a "new and emerging issue for the area of the Blackwater River.”
Portions of the Black Water River area are affected
.“Our little ones our children and our pets are most at risk to particularly toxin exposure because they’re more likely to drink the water because they don’t know better,” said Margaret Smigo, Waterborne Hazards Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Health. “Pets in particular, after they go swimming, may lick their paws and continue to absorb toxins externally.”
The harmful algal blooms were located in portions of the Blackwater region and VMH is asking that no one swims in parts of the Blackwater region of the lake due to numerous complaints. The algae produce toxins that can discolor the water and appear as green or light blue scum in areas close to the shore. These toxins possibly can cause fever, headaches, diarrhea, and vomiting if ingested so please be careful.