Thursday, September 9, 2010

Grand Lake, Ohio - Update

Officials unveil information to help restore lake
Thursday, 09 September 2010
Staff Writer
CELINA — Ohio State officials Tuesday night unveiled another piece in the puzzle in the fight to help restore the water quality of Grand Lake St. Marys.
Directors of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a public forum at the Celina Fieldhouse as a way to brief residents regarding a pair of pilot projects on the lake. Several hundred people who attended the meeting were allowed to submit questions to a moderator, which were then answered by members of the panel. Russ Gibson, with the Ohio EPA, gave a brief presentation regarding the alum dosing test project. The project, which is slated to begin Sept. 20, calls for liquid alum to be applied to six locations along the lake — West Beach, Harmon’s Channel, 4-H Camp, West Bank boat ramp, Otterbein channel No. 1 and Otterbein channel No. 2 — for a total of 53 acres.
“It’s designed to provide some near-term relief to reducing the nutrient loads that are within the lake itself,” Gibson said.
When introduced into the water column, the alum will bind with the phosphorus and force it to the bottom of the lake. The alum will not add to the sediment at the bottom of the lake, and Gibson said the compound poses no risks to humans, fish or other animals.
“It’s something that has been safely used in nearly every drinking water supply and treatment system — the city of Celina uses alum every day,” Gibson said. “It’s been used in more than 150 lakes successfully across the country.
“We have the literature to support that alum will be successful in helping to reduce the internal phosphorus load that is in the lake,” he said. “Just to give you an idea, Grand Lake St. Marys has a very, very high phosphorus level. Our goal with this project is to reduce the internal phosphorus and inactivate those levels by 60 to 85 percent. That is substantial.”
Gibson encouraged residents to come out Sept. 20 to witness the start of the four-day project. He also reassured the crowd the alum dosing poses zero risk to people.
“There is no harm in coming out and watching,” Gibson said. “If you happen to be around the lake one of those days, drive by and look at what’s going on.”
The new project is different than the one proposed by Gov. Ted Strickland in July. That project called for two sites of 20 acres a piece.
“We just really had a very difficult time finding two different sites that were that large,” Gibson said. “So we elected to instead do six sites that totaled 54 acres.”
Once the alum is applied via a barge, the water will instantly turn milky. Within two hours, Gibson said the results will be noticeable.
“As that alum settles down through the water column, it’s basically stripping the water of the phosphorus and other nutrients that are in that water column and the water will become remarkably clear,” Gibson said. “We do not expect Grand Lake St. Marys to become gem clear. The demonstration sites, for some period of time, will be very clear.”
The second pilot project, which is being conducted by Algaeventure, of Columbus, involves introducing silica into the water column with the hopes of flipping the bad algae into diatoms. Diatoms are a species of algae that do not produce toxins and if the conditions are right, will dominate harmful algae. That project started last week at a site near the city of Celina.
During the question-and-answer session, panel members handled a variety of questions. Some ranged from dredging the entire lake to the harmful side effects of alum.
One resident asked what is being done to rid the lake of geese.
ODNR Director Sean Logan said geese produce waste approximately 28 times a day and there are more than 2,000 of them living around the lake.
“We believe that we have a resident population of 2,500,” Logan said. “We will continue, through controlled hunts in designated locations, to continue to reduce the population.”
The question of opening up the spillway to flush out the lake was posed to the panel. Logan said that was not a viable option and would produce little, if any, benefit.
“The average length of time the water in Grand Lake St. Marys takes to come in and come out is 1.3 years,” Logan said.
Logan also said opening the spillway would fail to reduce the internal loading in the lake — a root cause of the algae bloom problems during the past two years. Logan said the depth also is as hurdle.
“Because of its shallowness, it does not have the same stratification that would lead you to believe or would it allow such exchange of water as the question asks,” Logan said. “You could open up both tubes for 24 hours and only get 1 inch drop.”
Dredging also was brought up. Logan said state official will focus on spot dredging near tributaries that lead into the lake.
“Right now, in Montezuma Bay, we are going to go a little deeper where we already have a spoil site available and there is already an active dredging project in place,” Logan said. “The key to dredging is the spoil site. Where do you put the dredged material to allow it to dewater in a quick enough fashion so that you don’t have water being your capacity. We are open to all sorts of suggestions.”
Logan said state officials are open to help solving the problem. However, he again stressed that dredging the entire lake is not a viable option.
“We do need your help,” Logan said. “We need help in identifying upload disposal sites, I think we should start with Prairie Creek. We need upload land owners to help identify where we can have disposal of this material.”
Winter manure application procedures also were posed to the panel. Logan said any manure application between Dec. 15 and March 15 would have to comply with a series of guidelines in order to be allowed. In two years, Logan said there will be a ban on winter manure applications.
“The proper crop to uptake the nutrients that are applied, set back distance from stream, the future weather and the soil,” Logan said of the requirements. “The soil will always tell you what it can handle and what it cannot handle.”
Logan also stressed that the ultimate solution is in the hands of landowners, not politicians.
“We all are part of the solution,” Logan said. “The ultimate, long-term solution to this problem does not lay with government, it lays with private landowners. You need to unite together and say that we want a better future and I know that you do. We just need to step up to the plate, each and every one of us.”
Last Updated ( Thursday, 09 September 2010 )

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