An official with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says while a pilot project to dose portions of Grand Lake St. Marys with alum failed to meet expectations, it did provide some positive results.
“There’s some encouraging results,” Ohio EPA spokesperson Dina Pierce said in regards to Tetra Tech’s analysis of the alum pilot project. “Two of the three areas had good results.”
Last week, Tetra Tech released its analysis of the project. Among its findings was that the alum reduced phosphorus levels at two locations — Harmon’s Channel and Otterbein No. 2 Channel — but failed to reduce levels at West Bank Marina.
“The numbers in the two locations showed reductions of 50 to 60 percent,” Pierce said. “I think we were going more for 80 percent. It’s not what we hoped for but it’s still promising. West Bank Marina definitely didn’t go as well as we hoped.”
Tetra Tech noted a variety of issues hindered the alum’s success at the marina, including too high of a concentration of the biomass associated with the algae as well as failure to prevent lake water from mixing with the controlled area. The consultants also noted spring would be the best time for another alum dosing because of a lack of biomass in the water.
“We discussed that and the decision hasn’t been made,” Pierce said of a spring alum dosing in portions of the lake. “That will fall to the new administration and they come in Monday.”
In the meantime, Pierce said officials from the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have been discussing the report and weighing potential options to help prevent another outbreak of toxic algae this year. Pierce stressed that no option will be left off the table.
Time, Pierce said, is a factor in whatever decision is made by state officials. If officials opt to follow Tetra Tech’s recommendation for a spring project, the ball would have to start moving soon.
Following Tetra Tech’s recommendations also could mean a whole lake dosage may not take place until the spring of 2012 if spring is in fact the best time to apply alum.
“If we do a pilot in the spring and confirm that theory and we get a better idea of doses, then any time in the summer or fall, when there is heavy biomass, probably wouldn’t be as effective then,” Pierce said. “We don’t want to spend millions to apply in summer or fall and that may push it back to spring 2012. All that is a decision that has yet to be made.”
In other lake news, Pierce said officials are still waiting for tissue sample results on fish taken from Grand Lake St. Marys to determine if the fish are safe to consume. Pierce also noted testing on water could tentatively resume in May. Officials are currently putting a plan together to handle the increased sampling that is expected across the state during the recreational season.