There’s no quick fix for a major state lake where toxic algae led to warnings and a decline in tourism this summer, the new director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said Friday.
EPA Director Scott Nally said improving Grand Lake St. Marys will not take "just one magic bullet" but a combination of them. His comments came at a news conference where he signed his first permit at the agency.
Nally and the directors of the state natural resources and agriculture departments visited the state’s largest inland lake on Friday. They met with officials working at the lake to discuss eight or nine ways to tackle the toxic blue-green algae, he said.
Grand Lake St. Marys, midway between Toledo and Dayton, is one of the state’s most polluted lakes because of run-off of manure and fertilizer from nearby farms. Phosphorous, found in manure and chemical fertilizers, helps foster the harmful blue-green algae.
Nally said the possible solutions included extracting high-phosphorous, bottom-feeder fish from the lake and harvesting the surrounding wetlands. Another approach might be more treatments of aluminum sulfate, or alum, to the lake.
A report last month showed that alum spread over test areas appeared to have no impact on phosphorous at one site in Grand Lake St. Marys. The phosphorous levels in the water were reduced by 50 to 60 percent at two other sites.
Nally said officials will soon have to decide whether to cut through the ice at the lake in the hopes of getting another test treatment done before the spring.
The 12,700-acre lake is used for boating, swimming and other recreation. It also supplies drinking water for more than 10,000 residents of nearby Celina. Its watershed covers more than 59,000 acres.
At the news conference, Gov. John Kasich said his administration would soon have a plan for the polluted lake.
"We’re on it, and we’ll move this along as quickly as we can," he said.
Asked whether farmers could face new rules, Kasich said his preference would be to try to work with the farmers to prevent run-off rather than instituting regulations.