The feature article in the 8/12/20 issue of the Laker Weekly “Sunken Boats Raise Questions for Officials” revealed an appalling revelation. Authorities currently have no legal recourse to hold boat owners responsible for boats that sink into the lake. Nor are they held accountable for the environmental damage it causes, resulting navigational safety hazards or costs required to remove it.
The lake is the environmental crown jewel for this region attracting tourism, economic vitality, and a desirable quality of life. If the aquatic health of the lake or its pristine quality is compromised, these attributes will be compromised.
Several governmental authorities, environmental agencies and organizations exist to protect the environmental quality of the lake. They include SML Lake Water Safety Council, Department of Wildlife Resources, The Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Chamber of Commerce, AEP and the Board of Supervisors to name a few. I urge these parties to form a coalition to address this eminent concern by enacting laws and or regulations that hold all boat owners responsible and accountable for their boats when sinking or submerged in the lake.
Without a vibrant lake, the natural appeal and economy surrounding Smith Mountain Lake suffers.