Today, was the first day of a month-long effort to temporarily stop the toxic algae blooms from taking over a popular recreation lake.
A nearly 3.5 million dollar state contract was awarded to a Nebraska company, HAB Aquatic Solutions to apply aluminum sulfate and sodium aluminate on Grand Lake St Marys.
The treatment is supposed to capture the phosphorous that feeds the algae blooms which shut down the lake last year.
"This process does not kill the algae, in a sense it starves the algae," said John Holz, Water Quality Specialist with HAB. "It is an inert compound, it won’t dessolve, it won’t release the phosphorous and it won’t create any environmental problems," he said.
"I hope the alum treatment works because, we have seven grandchildren and two dogs and they all love to swim in this lake," said Jim Conard. "So, we are just heartbroken right now."
The Conard’s have owned a cabin on the southside of Grand Lake St Marys for thirty-seven years. Like many of their fellow neighbors, the Conards hope the alum spread across five thousand acres of the lake, will temporarily halt the growth of toxic algae.
"It is very encouraging that they are doing something to address the problem at this point," said Dennis Brown. He owns three businesses around the lake and all have been impacted by the algal blooms.
This morning, crews began applying the alum from special boats designed to apply the chemicals over a 30-acre section of the lake before each refill.
"When the phosphorous binds on to this chemical flock that is formed, it sinks down to the bottom and prevents even more phosphorous from coming out of the bottom sediments," said Holz.
Recreation on and around the lake has a huge impact on the area’s economy. According to The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the area brings in an estimated 160 to 180 million dollars a year.
"Over the last two years with the increase of harmful algal blooms and the impact it has had on recreation it is estimated that the impact has been at least a 25 percent reduction in the income for the people that live in these communities," said Scott Fletcher, Special Projects Manager with ODNR.
Holz said, the first phase of the project could take one month but, other phases could continue for three or four more years. There is also a ongoing dredging project, removing bottom feeding fish and projects to filter nutrients before they enter the lake.
"Our farmer friends around here are going to have to do something about that where they do not have that runoff," said Conard.
By RICK REITZEL, NBC4i