ROANOKE, Va., Feb. 22, 2015 – Appalachian Power is warning boaters on Smith Mountain Lake to be aware of possible hazardous conditions near the dam where part of a boat barrier has flipped over into the water. The barrier has vertical poles attached to its floating sections and is linked by cables holding warning signs, but many of those are now underwater making the barrier hard to see from the lake surface.
The barrier is less visible in the dark. However, three companion lighted buoys remain operational and visible at night.
Appalachian is working with an outside contractor to fully inspect the location and to repair damage as quickly as possible.
The floating barrier is about 1,000 feet in length and runs between the Bedford and Pittsylvania County slopes of the Smith Mountain gap where the dam is located. It is between navigational marker R1 and the dam and is designed to keep boats away from dangerous areas of the dam and power generation facilities.
Appalachian Power’s Smith Mountain Project is a 636-megawatt pumped storage hydroelectric facility that utilizes an upper reservoir (Smith Mountain Lake) and a lower reservoir (Leesville Lake). Water stored in Smith Mountain Lake first passes through turbine-generators in the powerhouse to produce electricity and is discharged into Leesville Lake. Most of the water is retained in Leesville Lake and pumped back into the Smith Mountain Lake for re-use. A portion of the water goes through the turbine-generators at the Leesville powerhouse to generate additional electricity and to meet the minimum discharge requirements of the project's operating license.