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Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

LDC pledges $5,000 to test technology

Officials want to start test in spring

By Nancy Allen
It's just a drop in the bucket, but with the goal of creating a tidal wave of support and catching the state's attention, the nonprofit Lake Development Corporation (LDC) Monday passed a resolution to spend $5,000 to test sediment removal technology in Grand Lake.
The expenditure is a small part of the $500,000 local officials hope to raise by April to pay for a pilot test using sediment collectors in the lake's tributaries and giant aerators in the lake.
"If we can prove this will have some effect on a prototype scale this is what is needed to show it will work on a large scale," said Greg Schumm, LDC member and director of community relations at Wright State University-Lake Campus. "We're in the final stages of bringing those people together to support funding those first sites."
Schumm said he and others plan to solicit funds and support from other groups in the coming weeks.
Officials from Celina and St. Marys, Mercer and Auglaize counties, Grand Lake St. Marys State Park, the LDC, and the nonprofit Lake Improvement Association (LIA) put together the resolution asking for funding for the test.
The aim is to run a small-scale pilot test of the technology and, if it works, approach state and federal agencies in an effort to leverage grants and other sources to fund it on a larger scale, Schumm said. Ideally, the technology would be installed in early April and tested through summer.
Schumm said local officials hope by getting various entities to support the pilot, it will show the state different groups are working together.
"The state has always said to us they need to see a collaboration and I think this resolution shows collaboration," he said. "We've spoken to state and federal officials and it seems that their checkbooks will open once they see proof."
Schumm said a group of unnamed private individuals are willing to help pay for the study as well as other known groups and governmental entities. The Mercer County Community Foundation and the St. Marys Community Foundation, both 501(c)3 organizations, have agreed to be fiscal agents for the funds.
Findlay-based Streamside Systems invented the technology to be tested. Billed as sediment removal without dredging, the company's patented technologies have been used at numerous locations to clean up streams and lakes and improve aquatic life. Two of those technologies are the company's Airy Gator and its stream sediment Collector.
  The pilot test would involve using two Airy Gators and three sediment Collectors. One Airy Gator - a device that puts oxygen into the water, allowing beneficial microorganisms to grow and eat nutrient-rich organic material in the sediment - would be placed in bays at Southmoor Shores and Park Grand Resort. One Collector - a steel device placed on the bottom of a stream that uses the energy of the water to move sediment up the collector's ramp and into a hopper - would be placed in Big Chickasaw Creek, Beaver Creek (in Montezuma) and in Barnes Creek. Once the hopper is full, the sediment is pumped to a dewatering or disposal site.
Providing monitoring at the sites would be the Lake Campus, Streamside Systems and the city of Celina, Schumm said.
  The muck in the bottom of Grand Lake does not have enough oxygen to allow such beneficial microorganisms to survive and break down organic matter. The lake's excessive amount of blue-green algae only makes the lake's low dissolved oxygen problem worse, said Streamside Systems President John McArthur. The lake's massive algae blooms produce a large decaying biomass at the bottom of the lake after the algae dies.
The blooms are fed by excess nutrients, most of which drain off predominantly agricultural land, information from the Ohio EPA states. The algae is what gives the lake its characteristic green color and has been responsible for large fish kills. Last summer, the presence of blue-green algae produced toxin harmful to humans and animals was reported in the lake, adding more urgency to the need to find a fix, local officials have said.
The Grand Lake Watershed has been deemed one of the most degraded in the state based on Ohio EPA testing.
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