Big plans for Grand Lake St. Marys

CELINA, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland recently put into place many short- and long-term action plans to help restore Grand Lake St. Marys.

“We know that our businesses and families have struggled with the loss of activity at the lake this summer. This crisis has been generations in the making, and it will take all of us working together to try to restore this lake to health and prosperity,” Strickland said.

“This action plan provides a clear direction forward, and I want to thank this community for working with us as we all search for ways to bring this lake back to health.”

Loading

The state’s action plan focuses on the two main issues negatively impacting the water quality of Grand Lake St. Marys — internal and external loading.

Grand Lake St. Marys contains an excessive amount of reactive phosphorus which is continually recycled (internal loading). Cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) absorb the phosphorus as they grow, which contributes to the growth (or blooms) of cyanobacteria.

External loading is the continual addition of phosphorus to the lake from external sources in the watershed.

Addressing both these issues is critical to efforts to restore the lake.

“Less than one month ago Director Logan and I visited the community and listened to the concerns of the local residents. We emphasized the state would not be idle, and today’s release of the action plan represents our continued commitment to the community and the improvement of the lake,” said Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski.

Plan

The action plan includes two kinds of in-lake treatment demonstration projects focused on the internal loading issue. The first, called “alum treatment,” will be performed in a discrete area of the lake, approximately 20-40 acres in size.

Ohio EPA will supply the necessary funding (approximately $250,000) to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources through the 319 subgrant program.

The demonstration sites will be chosen during August 2010 with actual treatment targeted to begin in September 2010.

Whole lake application will only be considered following the completion of the demonstration projects. Also, the plan recommends reviewing the current small-scale algae flipping pilot project currently underway to determine if a larger-scale project is possible.

If feasible, the larger-scale project (approximately $25,000) will be funded by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Action plan

The action plan also includes many items focused on addressing the external loading issues. Action items include promoting improvements to manure hauling practices, limiting phosphorus discharges from wastewater treatment plans within the watershed, and educating local homeowners on septic systems and lawn management practices.

Also, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will seek legislative support for additional state regulatory authority which would restrict manure application during the winter and the requirement for farms with more than 350 tons of manure annually to develop a nutrient management plan.

“Grand Lake St. Marys is a shared resource with shared responsibilities for its health,” said ODNR Director Sean Logan. “We look forward to working with legislators, federal and local agencies, individual landowners, and citizen groups to implement these actions to improve the lake’s water quality and the community’s economic prospects.”

Sampling

Also included is a continued focus on protecting human health with weekly sampling by Ohio EPA and the posting of those results for the public.

Also, Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Health will request that the federal government develop national standards for the additional toxins which have been found in Grand Lake St. Marys, such as anatoxin-a, cylindrospermopsin and saxitoxin.

Lake. Grand Lake St. Marys straddles the Auglaize-Mercer County line and covers nearly 13,500 acres. Constructed in the mid-1800s to store water for the Miami-Erie Canal, the lake was established as one of the first state parks in 1949.

Over the years, Great Lake St. Marys has been a popular recreational lake for boating, fishing and swimming. It is also the drinking water supply for the city of Celina, which has a population of approximately 10,000. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources maintains a campground, three public beaches and several picnic areas at a state park along the lake.

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