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New Boat Donated to Monitor Smith Mountain Lake Water Quality

Ferrum College and the Smith Mountain Lake Association (SMLA) have dedicated a new boat for their Water Quality Monitoring program. For more than 35 years, SMLA and Ferrum College have partnered to monitor the water quality of Smith Mountain Lake. The American Electric Power Foundation donated the boat to the program because they believe in the overall goals.

“The AEP Foundation has a lot of different categories that we look to fund, and this Ferrum College boat donation checked all of those boxes,” said AEP external affairs manager and Ferrum College alumna Amanda Cox, ‘04.

As a Franklin County native, Cox has both personal and professional pride in AEP supporting the program.“I’m very excited and proud of our company for investing dollars into programs and partners that really make this a better place to live, work, and play.”

Each summer, Ferrum College faculty and students, along with SMLA volunteers, monitor the lake water for physical constituents, nutrients, bacteria and algal blooms. The samples are analyzed by scientists at Ferrum College, and the results are shared with SMLA, the public, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). The public service value has recently been in the spotlight due to an algae bloom at the lake, yet Dr. Mirta Martin, president of Ferrum College, reminded those at the dedication that the full value of the partnership reaches into the future and beyond Smith Mountain Lake.

“Because of the generosity of Appalachian Power, I have the privilege to make another historic moment in the history of Ferrum College, and that is to christen this science vessel so that the next generation of leaders has the opportunity to protect the resources of our earth,” said Martin.

By having a new, larger boat more than four scientists will be able to go out at a time. It will make a significant difference during the peak testing summer season and throughout the academic year as they look to expand educational efforts.

“Our ultimate goal is to determine the overall long term health of Smith Mountain Lake,” said director of the water quality monitoring program and environmental science professor Delia Heck. “With new signage and a trolling motor on the pontoon, we are hopeful that it will raise program awareness and if boaters stop us, we will be asked about water quality.”

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