Monday, August 6th, 2007
By Nancy Allen
Grand Lake part of national lake study
First ever survey of the lake will take place Aug. 30
  Grand Lake is among 19 lakes in Ohio and 909 across the United States selected in the first ever Survey of the Nation's Lakes, said Grand Lake St. Marys State Manager Craig Morton.
Grand Lake will be surveyed on Aug. 30, he said.
Mandated by Congress and sponsored by the U.S. EPA and U.S. Geological Survey, the survey's purpose is to determine and compare conditions in inland lakes, ponds and reservoirs in the lower 48 states. The state EPA is conducting Ohio's portion of the survey.
"This is going to be one day of testing," Morton told those attending Saturday's Lake Improvement Association meeting in Celina.
Each of the chosen lakes is larger than 10 acres and at least 1 meter deep, said Theresa Merchant-Masonbrink of the Ohio EPA. She called the survey a "snapshot approach," not designed to measure a lake's year-round health, but to take a moment-in-time look at the lakes.
The testing will be done in coastal waters and in streams and rivers that can accommodate waders.
The water data will be analyzed and serve as a baseline for future water samplings. Data from this year's survey is expected to be compiled in 2008, but not analyzed until 2009. The cost is expected to be $6,000 to $8,000 per lake. Biological, ecological and recreational factors all will be measured.
The survey will involve looking at the tiniest of floral and fauna in the waters and the higher levels of organisms, since they are dependent on one another. An example would be zooplankton eats algae, small fish eat the zooplankton, bigger fish eat the smaller fish and so on.
If part of the food chain is missing, a dysfunctional environment exists, Merchant-Masonbrink said.
While some of the equipment to measure water quality in the nationwide survey is costly, one of the most primitive and interesting to Merchant-Masonbrink is the Secchi disk, named after Father Secchi, science adviser to the pope in 1865.
A Secchi disk is a black and white disk attached to a rope or pole that can be lowered into the water. The clarity of the water is measured based on how far it can be lowered into the water and still be seen.
It has been 10 years since the Ohio EPA conducted a water quality study on inland lakes. The study will take a closer look at the state's lakes to identify ones that are impaired and determine how to make them healthy. While lakes will be the focus, attention also will paid to streams draining into them, she said.
Also during the LIA meeting, Morton reported he is starting to get reports of boats hitting stumps and not being able to get out of channels due to the dropping water level.
As of last week, the lake's level was 5-6 inches below normal pool, though this past weekend's rain may have brought the level up a bit.
State beach water samples continue to produce low bacteria levels, he said. Samples this year so far have produced no readings that were above safety levels for swimming.
Income from the state park's campground and camp store are both up this year, Morton said, adding it also has been a good year for safety with no major accidents.
In other business:
• Bar Stool Open chairwoman Deb Hoersting reported the LIA's putt-putt golf fundraiser set for Aug. 11 is sold out, with a total of 171 teams and 684 players registered. This year 33 hole sponsors will participate, eight more than last year, and there will be more than 190 door prizes donated by local businesses, organizations and individuals, Hoersting said.
• LIA member Theresa Howick said she intends to contact the city of Celina about a large area recently planted in grass near the Rotary lighthouse on south Main Street. She said no straw has been spread on the ground and top soil has been running off the area into a nearby drain every time it is watered.
• OSU Extension official Jim Hoorman will talk about winter cover crop planting in the Grand Lake Watershed at the next Lake Restoration Committee meeting at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 20 at the Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge in Celina.
• The next LIA meeting is 10 a.m. Sept. 1 at the Moose Lodge.
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Mostly sunny