A chemical project aimed at helping heal Grand Lake St. Marys is expected to start in the coming weeks.
Grand Lake St. Marys Interim Park Manager Brian Miller unveiled plans for the second alum project during Saturday’s Lake Improvement Association meeting. Miller said the project, which will be conducted in three phases, will pave the way for a lakewide treatment later this year.
“We are going to do the demonstration again, the bids went out yesterday (Friday),” Miller said. “The bids are due back in to our Columbus office by March 18 at noon. The goal of the project is to evaluate the effectiveness of three techniques — all focused on inactivating phosphorus.”
The first technique will involve using granular alum, which will be used at West Beach, just east of the park office. That test site will be 8.11 acres.
The second technique will use a pretreatment of hydrogen peroxide followed by the application of liquid alum. That project will be done at the state campgrounds and will involved 7.6 acres.
The final technique will involve a higher dose of liquid alum.
That project will be located at Windy Point east channel and include 5.3 acres. All three locations will be closed to the public during the 30-day test window.
“Those locations will be isolated and monitored,” Miller said. “We are planning on installing the curtains the weekend of March 28. The applicator will have four days to apply these products and that will occur between April 5 and April 12.”
That timeline would mean the curtains should be removed by mid-May.
The state also recently announced the allocation of $5 million to help cover costs of a lakewide alum treatment. The funds will come via the Ohio EPA.
“The funds will be used exclusively for that application,” Miller said. “ODNR and EPA will not seek reimbursement for their costs.”
The target date for a lakewide application is mid-May and it is expected to take up to 45 days to complete. To coincide with the projects, the state will be hosting an informational session at 6 p.m. March 21 at Dicke Hall at the Lake Campus.
In addition to the alum projects, the state is working on a comprehensive program to remove rough fish from the lake. The species, which includes gizzard shad and carp, contribute to high levels of phosphorus found in the lake.
“Right now ODNR is developing specs to get a commercial fisherman in here to remove the fish,” Miller said.
“While that’s taking place, ODNR has found equipment to start doing it ourselves. So we will be looking at some rough fish removal out at the park this spring.”
Miller encouraged anyone interested in volunteering with the removal of the rough fish to contact his office at 419-394-3611. The annual cleanup day is scheduled for April 30.
Miller said the quick action from the current administration shows how high on the radar Grand Lake St. Marys is in Columbus.
“There is a lot of action,” Miller told The Evening Leader.
“It’s impressive. It keeps us busy but I think that’s what we need. To fix this type of problem it’s going to take action.”
While the state allocated funding for this year’s application, Miller said there is no guarantee future funds will be available for additional applications.
However, Miller said he remains hopeful a successful result this year could end up in additional rounds of funding from the state.
“It’s going to be a multiple-phased approach,” Miller said. “We are going to need to pursue that. The thing I want everyone to understand is Mother Nature has as much control over this more than anything. Regardless of the $5 million whole-lake application, the sediment collectors and Airy Gators, no body knows if we will see blooms this year. I think that’s a question no one in the continental United States can answer.”
Miller also noted state officials are in the process of developing safety limits on the three new toxins found in the lake last year. While there are safety limits of exposure on microcystin, there are no universally known limits on other three.
“We’re not going to go into this season with saying anatoxin-a, we don’t know when they are safe and anything above zero we are going to put all the signs up,” Miller said.
“It’s not going to happen. They are getting standards set for all those toxins out there. I like the idea and at least we will have a number. Before, anything above zero, because we didn’t know, we threw signs up.”
BY Mike Burkholder, The Evening Leader