Thursday, June 24th, 2010
By Nancy Allen
First Collector installed
  GRAND LAKE - The first of three sediment Collectors was installed in Big Chickasaw Creek at the intersection of state Route 219 and Behms Road on Wednesday.
A crane lifted the 8,500 pound, 30-foot-long steel unit into the air and placed it in the creek. Streamside Systems, Findlay, constructed and installed the device, which will catch sediment and nutrients before they enter the lake.
The unit is expected to catch mostly sand, which will be pumped into a geotextile bag and analyzed. It may be useful to local construction companies.
"We'll know in the next month if what it's going to collect will be marketable," said Laura Walker, coordinator of the Grand Lake/Wabash Watershed Alliance.
A second Collector arrived Wednesday and should be installed next week in Beaver Creek near Montezuma, said Milt Miller, fundraising chairman of the Grand Lake Restoration Initiative (GLRI). A third is planned for Barnes Creek.
The GLRI is a coalition of groups and individuals from Mercer and Auglaize counties that has collected $485,000 to put sediment removal technology in the lake and three creeks.
The group also has purchased two giant aerators operating since April 30 in bays at Southmoor Shores and Park Grand Resort. These units infuse oxygen into the lake's sediment layer, allowing beneficial organisms to grow and eat the organic material.
A new water quality advisory placed on the lake about a week ago due to a new strain of blue-green algae has not dampened the coalition's spirits, Miller said.
"We're still very positive and enthused," Miller said. "All through our campaign earlier this year we told people the algae would be back and our Airy Gators and Collectors are just one piece of a big puzzle that collectively will restore the lake."
Miller said Wednesday's installation of floating wetlands is another component to help the lake.
"This didn't occur overnight and it's not going to be fixed overnight," he said. "It took years for our lake to get in this condition and it would be naive to think we're going to fix it in one year's time."
The lake suffers from huge algae blooms fed by nutrient runoff that comes mostly from farmland.
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