Rachel Matvy

Co-organizer, Fort Loudoun Lake Association's Paddle for Clean Water

How many showed up for the canoeing event on Sept. 27?

Thirty-five—it went really well.

A four-mile paddle, did you see a lot of pollution?

We did see some trash along the waterline and in the water, but we saw some good signs, too—lots of water birds, blue heron. I'm not sure if I saw... a kingfisher? It was a diving bird, and we saw ducks, coots...

Did you say "coot?"

Yes! It looks similar to a duck, but it's all black and has a white bill, and it's smaller.

What is the top thing you'd like people to be aware of concerning this water?

Just that anywhere in the watershed of Fort Loudoun, anything you do can affect the lake. You could be 10 miles away and a cup you throw out could still make it to Fort Loudoun. A lot of people don't realize just how connected the waterways are.

Will a person ever be able to safely fall out of a canoe in the lake?

You can swim now. I think the main concern is the fish—some of them would not be edible because of the high level of PCBs [Polychlorinated Biphenyls resulting from water pollution]. I see a lot of swimmers down at the Cove at Concord, a lot of them are kids. And just the other day I saw some swimmers out here by our offices, on the water downtown.

What's the group's next move?

We're planning to offer a series of educational workshops within Knox and Loudoun Counties for food service facilities on how best to manage their storm water.

What do restaurants have to do with storm water?

Anything on a restaurant property, like a leaky dumpster or the employees pouring mop water in the storm drain, that water's going to go into the waterways. Water isn't filtered in the storm drain.

For more information, visit fllake.org