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Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Celina officials want to dig way out of water problems

By Timothy Cox
Celina city officials sought assistance this week from Mercer County Commissioners on a proposed partnership to convince state officials to dredge a portion of Grand Lake.
City development consultant Kent Bryan and Mayor Sharon LaRue briefly outlined a preliminary scenario during a meeting this week. They envision state dredge work in the northwest corner of the lake nearest the intake pipe where the city draws its drinking water from the lake. The dredge material then would be pumped along a proposed underground pipe running roughly along Schunk Road, then through a farm field to a county-owned woods and farm property along Fleetfoot Road.
Bryan said a portion of the property could be turned into wetlands, giving the city a double benefit from the project.
Dredging the lake presumably would result in less sediment in the water drawn into the city water plant. Other ideas have been tried or discussed in recent years with no real solution to the problem.
The city also could use the created wetlands to fulfill its eventual requirement for further mitigation if they succeed in building the rest of the Celina Rotary Walkway and some breakwater structures to protect the path, Bryan said.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Army Corp of Engineers officials are hesitant to approve dredging projects without plenty of suitable space to deposit the material, Bryan said. They have expressed early support for the city's proposal.
"If we ended up working together, they would be very supportive of this," Bryan said. "If we could provide them with a long-term location ... it may work out."
Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Craig Morton this morning said dredging open areas of water is more difficult than dredging channels, which the state park office has been doing for several years. Waves, wind, the depth of water and qualifying for state funds to pay for the dredging are all factors the city would have to look into, he said.
Morton said his staff currently is dredging three channels.
"It is critical," Morton said of dredging. "Without it, some channels would be closed up."
He said dredging open areas of the lake is on the 10-year plan, but can't be done with the current funding. He said the city possibly could hire someone for dredging near the intake pipe.
Some city and state officials have said in the past that lake dredging is an uphill battle as long as sediment continues to be carried into the lake from its tributaries.
County officials agreed to mull the pros and cons of the project and discuss it further in the future.
Officials did not discuss how the pump station and pipes would be financed. They also discussed no estimated costs.
City officials raised the issue during a joint meeting with county officials to discuss water issues. Although the talks began more than a year ago about a potential joint water project, no such ventures have developed. Instead, city officials on today updated commissioners on their progress toward adding granular activated carbon (GAC) treatment to the city's water system.
Commissioners hold some interest in the project because about 1,000 city water customers are in Jefferson Township with no representation at the city level. Commissioners in the past had talked about building their own rural water system to serve that area and possible future development. A mail-in survey showed generally widespread support for the idea, although talk of that project has died down for now.
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