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Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Grand Lake algae blooms

By Nancy Allen

This photo taken by lake resident Jay Heyne between Harbor Point and Highland Pa. . .

GRAND LAKE - It's back.
Motorists drove slowly along West Bank Road on Monday to look at the thick green coating on the lake's water and shoreline.
"I can't say I've ever seen this large a bloom at one time. It's widespread out in the lake," said Brian Miller, assistant manager at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park. "Then we have some colorations in some of the channels and shoreline that I can't say I've seen before. It was blue in color."
Ohio EPA officials took water samples from the lake Monday after the large algae bloom was reported. The results of the algae toxin levels won't be available until Friday and results of the type of species won't be available for two to four weeks, an EPA official said this morning.
Miller said heavy rain Monday night and early this morning helped dissipate some the algae, which appeared less dense this morning.
Algae needs nutrients and still, warm water to grow. The lake's overabundance of nutrients and recent hot, humid weather have created the perfect conditions for algae growth, said Linda Merchant-Masonbrink, a harmful algal bloom coordinator with the Ohio EPA.
Masonbrink said she is certain it is a blue-green algae bloom, but believes it may be a different species than the one that caused the Ohio EPA to issue a water quality advisory last year. The advisory cautioned people to limit contact with the water because the planktothrix algae was producing a potentially harmful toxin.
"It has different characteristics than the blooms we saw last year," Masonbrink said. "It has a scum with some iridescent blue colors that glow. It's very striking and also very characteristic of blue-green algae, but not planktothrix."
Sixteen-year-old Jay Heyne, who has lived on Grand Lake his whole life, described the lake's color as "army camo." He first noticed the algae bloom Monday evening.
"There were so many greens and different colors," he said. "It had a slight odor, but it wasn't too potent."
He looked at the water again around 6 a.m. today after storms went through and said it looked better.
Masonbrink said it is important to identify the species of algae because not all produce a toxin. And those that do produce the toxin, do not do so all the time, she added.
"We want to do the I.D. to determine if it is a type that produces the microcystin, that way we know if it is a species we will be having trouble with all summer," she said.
To view the most up to date algae toxin levels for Grand Lake go and click on Grand Lake St. Marys Sampling Data. The latest algae toxin levels should be released on the site Friday.
To speak to an OEPA representative about Grand Lake toxin levels, call Darla Peelle at 614-644-2160.
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