Appalachian Power is now accepting public comments on its water management plan for the Smith Mountain Project. The plan provides guidelines on water management at Smith Mountain Lake as well as downstream at Leesville Lake.
Community input on the water management plan is required every five years by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Individuals or organizations can provide comments on how Appalachian Power has performed in maintaining lake levels and its release of water downstream.
One major aspect of the water management plan is how Appalachian Power manages water levels during droughts and periods of flooding such as what happened in November. However, Appalachian Power spokesman George Porter warned that this current public comment period is concerning the years 2015 to 2019, so any comments concerning the most recent flooding would not be valid.
Porter added that anyone who chooses to participate in the current public comment period doesn’t have to provide a specific instance. Any general concerns or comments on instances between 2015 and 2019 will be accepted.
The public comment period on Appalachian Power’s water management plan was supposed to be completed last year. Porter said the company has held public meetings in previous years to discuss the plan, but that wasn’t possible last year due to the pandemic.
“If there was no pandemic, we would have had this filed (to FERC) by the end of July,” Porter said.
Porter said FERC gave Appalachian Power an extension and now the company has until May 15 to provide those comments to FERC.
Public comments will be accepted until Feb. 5 on the water management plan, and Porter said Appalachian Power encourages those comments.
“If there is an issue, we need to know,” Porter said.
Comments on the water management plan can be mailed to Smith Mountain Project, C/O Appalachian Power Company, P.O. Box 2021, Roanoke, VA 24022-2121 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appalachian Power’s water management plan is available at smithmountainproject.com.