The state is testing fish in Grand Lake St. Marys to see whether the toxic algae that choked the water over the summer has made the bass, catfish, crappie and bluegill unsafe to eat.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is spending $58,500 to see whether huge levels of the liver toxin microcystin build up in fish over time.
This study will determine whether the fish warning should be kept in place, said EPA spokeswoman Dina Pierce.
"The studies that are out there don’t look at that high of level," Pierce said. "If we get a spike like this at other lakes, we’ll have some hard science data that we can at least tell people for sure."
She said the state probably will either suggest that people limit consumption to a certain number of times in a week or month, which it does regarding fish containing mercury, or keep microcystin on the "do not eat" list along with fish that contain harmful PCBs.
Milton Miller, director of the Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission, said a lot rides on the study.
"Our economy is suffering beyond words," Miller said. "We’re hoping and praying for good news."