Go ahead and put your boat into Grand Lake. You won’t have to take it out until fall no matter what happens with the algae.
The state will not advise against boating on Grand Lake this summer – even if algae toxin levels exceed safe standards.
"If there is an advisory this summer, there will not be a warning to stop boating," Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Brian Miller said during Monday’s Lake Development Corporation meeting. "It would just advise against contact with the water."
Ohio Department of Natural Resources spokesman Scott Fletcher this morning confirmed the new protocol.
"The reason is, there is no scientific evidence that merely boating on top of the water poses any threat to human health," Fletcher said. "The risk comes when people are immersed in the water or ingest it."
The protocol is being reviewed the state expects to make it public in coming weeks, Fletcher said.
The state previously used World Health Organization standards to determine if microcystin algae toxin levels were unsafe and which water quality advisory to issue.
Last summer, Grand Lake was marked with the strictest advisory, which warned against all contact with the water, including no boating and not eating the lake’s fish.
The Ohio departments of health, natural resources and EPA have been meeting to put the new standards in place. Nineteen other water bodies across the state had algae toxin-related advisories last year.
Miller also told LDC members that the $750,000 in unallocated state dredge funds leveraged by Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, will be used to buy a new dredge and pay for shoreline protection.
Miller estimates the new dredge will cost $670,000 and should arrive some time this fall. It will replace the state park’s aging 1969 St. Marys dredge.
The remaining $80,000 will be used for sites receiving riprap for shoreline protection. Locations for this project have not been chosen.
Former state park dredge operator Tom Grabow has been hired as the park’s new dredge supervisor, Miller said. He will manage a staff of five full-time and three part-time dredge operators.
Having Grabow in the post will let Miller concentrate more on park operations and marketing, said Miller, who has been supervising the dredge program and managing the park since August.
"One thing this community wants to see is mud being pumped," Miller said of lake dredging. "He’s (Grabow) got two going and one more to get started."
One dredge is removing sediment from channels at Northwood housing subdivision and the other is at a channel at Kozy Kampground. The third dredge from the statewide program will start pumping sediment from Coldwater Creek this week, Miller said.
LDC members discussed an ongoing goal to add two representatives from the local ag community to the group. The effort was first proposed several months ago but recently stalled. Several names were discussed and LDC President Milt Miller said they would be contacted to gauge their interest.
St. Marys Boat Club member Max Gilpin said the club needs members. Many left after last year’s toxic algae bloom and haven’t renewed their memberships. State docks at the club are half price, a mo ve the state made to entice people back to the lake. Gilpin said an open house will be held at the club 1-3 p.m. May 21.
The next LDC meeting is 4 p.m. June 6 at the Auglaize & Mercer Counties Convention and Visitors Bureau.
More than four tons of rough fish removed from Grand Lake:
Two Grand Lake St. Marys State Park seasonal workers have removed more than four tons (8,000 pounds) of quillback carp suckers, carp and gizzard shad from the lake since mid-April, park manager Brian Miller said.
The recent windy, wet weather has put the rough fish removal on hold the last week and a half. When the lake is choppy, workers cannot get to the trap nets accessible only by boat.
Miller said a third seasonal worker will be hired to aid in the "very labor intensive work."
Rough fish removal was recommended in a local plan to restore the lake. The fish contribute to algae growth by re-suspending sediment and nutrients and excreting phosphorous in their waste, which feeds the algae. Some carp can grow to 10 pounds.
State officials estimate by weight 90 percent of the fish in the lake are rough, which do well in poor water quality conditions.
The project has given state workers a look at the lake’s game fish population. Game fish caught in the nets are thrown back, and the rough fish are picked up by an area rendering facility to be turned into poultry feed.
"That’s what’s interesting is seeing all the fish we have in this lake," Miller said. "We’re seeing beautiful crappie, yellow perch, sunfish, walleye, northern pike and catfish."
The public can take rough fish they catch to a site near the former Mercer County Wildlife Area office off the south side of state Route 703 west of Montezuma. Rough fish can be placed in orange drums near the red brick outbuilding and covered with lids.
A "Get the Carp Outta Here" fishing tournament is set for June 3-5 on the lake, as a way for people of all ages to get involved, Miller said.
For more information on the tournament, contact the Auglaize & Mercer Counties Convention and Visitors Bureau at 419-394-1294 or go to www.seemore.org.
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By Nancy Allen, The Daily Standard