The July 3rd LIA meeting opened with the reciting of the “Pledge”. A brief recognition of Bob Grimm’s life and a moment of silence were held in his honor. Due to Bob’s passing we have a vacant trustee position. Nominations were requested at the meeting. The position will be thru December 2010. If anyone is interested, please see any Board member to request your consideration along with your qualifications. Everyone is still encouraged to go to the web and send letters to our legislators. We also encourage each of you to follow up your letters with phone calls or additional letters requesting action on the lake issues.
The “normal” meeting was not held do to the current condition of the lake. Instead, there were four guests on hand to answer audience questions in regards to issues surrounding the lake. The meeting lasted approximately 2 hours with many questions from the audience.
State Representative Jim Zehringer started the meeting off with a brief overview of where we been and where we are going. He said that it is going to take everyone in Mercer County, EPA, & ODNR to clean the lake up.
OEPA Director Chris Korleski spoke to the audience about the degradation of the lake and the fact it has been ongoing for 50 – 100 years. Because of the lack of attention to the lake it is going to take some time to get it fixed, but that it will be fixed! The two problems that currently exist with the lake are internal and external nutrient loading. His best guess is that the bulk of the problem is washing in on the south side of the lake. Internally phosphorus is the cause of the algae bloom and the question is how do we get rid of it. Mr. Korleski suggests that one way is thru spreading alum (aluminum sulfate) on the lake. This chemical will make the algae clump together and fall to the bottom of the lake. This is good for approximately 5-10 years and is a quick fix to a long term problem. It is expensive to purchase and would cost between 5 – 10 million dollars to treat the entire lake. The Ohio EPA has retained an environmental firm called Tetra Tech which will provide a report on July 9th detailing Alum’s possible success with the lake (report available on LIA website). Dredging the entire lake does not appear to be the answer at this time. Dredging is cost prohibitive with estimates from 10 to 100 million and the material removed would need very large areas for retention. The main external loading problem is the run-off from the agricultural area. Studies show that approximately 85% of the nutrient loading is coming from agriculture. There are current programs available for farmers to voluntarily take steps to help the situation. Mr. Korleski states that it may come down to mandatory control thru legislation.
ODNR Director Shawn Logan stated that 25% of the states’ 4 million dollar dredging budget for all state parks goes to St. Marys. Dredging the entire lake would take too long, cost too much money and the issue of where to put the dredging material would need solved. Alum will cost between $280 and $750 per acre but could provide a temporary solution to the algal blooms and toxic issues. His concern is that if the external loading is not reduced, the alum may be less effective.
Wright State University Professor Dr. Hiskey stated “the lake reflects its watershed.” The first issue is that there is a nutrient problem due to excessive phosphorus and nitrogen run off. There is also a long retention time for the water in the lake causing low flushing rate. He cannot explain why there is an algal bloom like we are currently experiencing or whether it will come back or not. Even if the external loading stopped, we may have an algal bloom due to the high nutrients within the lake. This means both internal and external loadings must be fixed.
Response to most common questions include, the lake water is safe to drink from Celina’s water treatment plant. Well water is safe to drink. ODNR & OEPA are responsible to help clean up the lake. Oder is not thought to be a health hazard and boats will not cause a toxic release from the water. Contact or ingestion of the water should be avoided. New legislation will likely be needed to clean up the watershed.
AiryGators are still being tested to understand their impact on the nutrient problem. Alum treatment is being considered for use in the lake to tie-up phosphorous and prevent blue-green algae blooms.
The 50/50 winner of $289.50 was Bob Eilerman.
Next LIA meeting will be August 7, 10:00 AM at the Celina Moose. Please plan to attend!