Virginia Department of Health warns of Harmful Algal Bloom in Smith Mountain Lake

Harmful Algal Bloom
Harmful Algal Bloom(Credit: Moneta Fire and Rescue)
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 6:54 PM EDT
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MONETA, Va. (WDBJ) - The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) issued a statement about a harmful algal boom (HAB) in the Blackwater River arm of Smith Mountain Lake in Bedford, Franklin, and Pittsylvania counties.

The VDH warns people and pets to avoid contact with water including activities such as swimming, windsurfing, stand-up-paddle-boarding, and any activity that increases the risk of ingesting water. However, boating may continue with precaution in the advisory area.

“Some harmful algae, called cyanobacteria, can cause skin rash and gastrointestinal illnesses, such as upset stomach, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea,” the VDH added.

The Virginia Department of Health recommends

  • “Avoid contact with any area of the lake where scums are present or water is green or blue-green or an advisory sign is posted,
  • Not allow children or pets to drink from natural bodies of water.
  • Keep children and pets out of the areas experiencing a harmful algal bloom and quickly wash them off with plenty of fresh, clean water after contact with algal scum or bloom water.
  • Seek medical/veterinarian care if you or your animals experience symptoms after swimming in or near an algal bloom.
  • Properly clean fish by removing skin and discarding all internal organs and cook fish to the proper temperature to ensure fish fillets are safe to eat.
  • Contact the Harmful Algal Bloom Hotline at 1-888-238-6154 if you suspect you experienced health-related effects following exposure to a bloom.
  • Visit to learn more about harmful algal blooms or to report an algal bloom or fish kill.”

The VDH provides an interactive Harmful Algal Bloom map reflecting the status of HAB in the Blackwater River arm of Smith Mountain Lake and a summary can be found here.

For more information visit