A debris skimmer (known as a “TRASHCAT™”), similar to one used in Baltimore Harbor, is now in operation on Smith Mountain Lake.
Appalachian Power Company officials last week announced they had purchased the new 50-foot long “TRASHCAT™” that will be used on both Smith Mountain and Leesville Lakes.
The device replaced the so-called “water witch” which has been in operation on the Lake since the mid 1970’s.
APCO’s Roanoke Division Assistant Manager Tom Jobes, who also serves as the company’s representative to the Smith Mountain Lake Policy Advisory Board (PAB), made the announcement at one of the board’s meetings. The new machine was demonstrated at a meeting of the Smith Mountain Lake Water Safety Council at Bernard’s landing.
“Clearly, APCO recognizes that debris removal is important to the economic health of the Lake,” said Jobes. He said the utility company has been looking for an updated debris removal device for 3-5 years. Company officials traveled to Baltimore and liked what they saw.
Built by United Marine International LLC (UMI), Jobes said it is approximately four times larger than the water witch, and has a “gathering feature” on the front that collects debris and guides it onto an inboard conveyor system. The “TRASHCAT™” has its own trailer and can be moved to different sites. Jobes said Appalachian plans to use it at Leesville Lake for 4-6 weeks and then concentrate on the upper reaches of the Roanoke and Blackwater Rivers.
Jobes said APCO scheduled a fall delivery for the new machine because fall and winter is when they do the majority of their debris removal from the Lake.
Appalachian and the Lake counties are now negotiating on the best way to handle disposing of the debris after it is removed from the Lake. The counties also are expected to bear the cost of hauling the debris away.
“We’ve gotten a unanimous and positive reception from the counties,” said Jobes.
Whatever plan is utilized will be coordinated through the PAB. Jobes and PAB executive director Liz Parcell have been surveying the Lake for possible sites where a large dumpster could be placed to collect the debris. A PAB board member suggested the board pass a resolution thanking Appalachian for obtaining the new skimmer.