Because of a faulty gage, Appalachian Power was releasing too much water from Smith Mountain Lake.
Appalachian Power says it is not exactly sure how much water was released from the lake.
Here is a statement from Appalachian Power:
"After being notified by Appalachian Power, the USGS made adjustments to the Brookneal gage based on hydrographic comparisons. As a result we were able to reduce the amount of discharge from the project. The Brookneal gage was underreporting flow. We don't have a good assessment of how much of an impact this has had on water levels, but it is certain that releases were higher than they would have been if the gauge were working properly."
Original story from Friday
May has certainly started on the wet side, with over an inch of rain in some places in the first week. That's why boaters and residents at Smith Mountain Lake are wondering why the water levels are still so low.
You might compare it to a bank account. You have to have as much coming in as you do going out, or you lose money.
All of the rivers that feed Smith Mountain Lake have been running well below average since March. That's less water coming into the lake.
The other thing is that American Electric Power (AEP), who manages water flow at the dam, is required to release water during the spring to provide water to the fish hatchery in Brookneal. The hatchery annually spawns and hatches millions of striped bass. So that's more water coming out of Smith Mountain Lake.
(VIEW CURRENT AND ARCHIVED SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE LEVELS)
The U.S. Geological Survey maintains a stream gauge in Brookneal, near the hatchery. They believe this gauge may have malfunctioned.
AEP still has some calculations to do, but we may find out early next week that more water than necessary has been released downstream, lowering the water level at Smith Mountain Lake.
The main impact from the lower water levels will be to those renting boats and are unfamiliar with lake.
"There's a lot of points that stick out above water when the water drops this low. Areas that you normally could cut through normally, are suddenly shallow enough you could ground the boat," said Rich Phillips, the manager at Parrot Cove Marina.
Phillips and other marina managers are hoping for more rain during the coming weeks to help boost the water levels in time for the Memorial Day weekend.
Until then, they encourage everyone on the water to be careful when taking a boat close to shore. Otherwise, you may run aground. Most rental companies charge money to come get you out if you're stuck.
WDBJ7 News hopes to find out more on the gauge malfunction on Monday (May 14).