Ohio plans to use a chemical treatment on all 13,000 acres of the state’s largest inland lake to try heading off the toxic algae blooms that have become a perennial problem hurting tourism, officials said.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is trying to pull together $5 million to spread aluminum sulfate, or alum, over all of Grand Lake St. Marys in western Ohio, EPA Director Scott Nally said this week at a public forum on the cleanup efforts held at Wright State University near Dayton. The agency has about a third of the needed funding and is trying to line up the rest so spraying can begin as soon as April, Nally said, according to multiple media accounts.
Alum is used to neutralize phosphorous that has been winding up in the water from manure and chemical runoffs. The phosphorous feeds blue-green toxic algae, which produces a nerve toxin that can sicken humans and kill pets and other animals.
Officials said in the fall that a test that spread alum over part of the lake last year was more successful than expected and killed 56 percent of phosphorous in the treated area.
Jim Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said at the forum that things are moving in the right direction, The Columbus Dispatch reported. "We hope this year will be better than last," he said.
Officials announced other plans including work to create a man-made wetland to naturally filter out manure runoff on Prairie Creek, a major feeder into the lake, which sits between Dayton and Toledo.
Algae blooms in previous summers have closed the lake to swimming and boating and even led to warnings against touching the water, all of which was devastating to the local tourism industry.
Leaders of the Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission said the goal for this year is no health advisories.