On Thursday, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) finished the dredging season at Grand Lake St. Marys. The department set a goal of removing 300,000 cubic yards of sediment during the 2013 dredging season, and Ohio State Parks exceeded that goal by removing 302,226 cubic yards of dredge material this year, a record figure for Ohio’s largest inland lake.
“ODNR is committed to Grand Lake St. Marys with our multi-faceted, multi-year plan to improve water quality, and we are proud to have surpassed our high dredging goal,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “We will expand our dredging efforts again next year while we continue to work toward improving the health of the watershed.”
In 2013, ODNR and private groups worked together to remove more than 17,000 pounds of rough fish from Grand Lake St. Marys. With state, local and federal funding, the Prairie Creek treatment train was installed to keep dissolved phosphorus in the watershed and out of the lake. Initial testing indicates that of the water that flows through the treatment train, there is a reduction of up to 80 percent of phosphorus loading into the lake. A second treatment train has been approved and is currently being designed for future installation.
With the support of Ohio Senate President Keith Faber, House Bill 59 secured a new suction dredge for Grand Lake St. Marys and another for the nearby 5,800-acre Indian Lake. The dredges will be constructed by Ellicott Dredge during the winter and will be delivered to the lakes in late spring 2014.
In 2012, with the help of “Brutus,” a new dredge, as well as the two existing dredges, 289,000 cubic yards of sediment were dredged from the lake. In 2011, approximately 272,000 cubic yards of sediment was removed from Grand Lake St. Marys. This quadrupled the amount of cubic yards removed from the lake compared to the previous two years.
The dredging team at Grand Lake St. Marys will spend the off-season constructing dredge material relocation areas and doing maintenance on the equipment to get ready for next year’s dredge season. Next year’s dredging goal has not been set.
Grand Lake St. Marys is a 13,500-acre recreational lake located in Mercer and Auglaize counties in western Ohio.