Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
EPA may test alum as way to clean lake
Large crowd at LIA hears of state plans to defeat algae
By William Kincaid
Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski addresses a large crowd at the Celina Moose on. . .
CELINA - Aluminum sulphate may be dumped in Grand Lake to combat the excessive phosphorus that has led to massive algae blooms.
Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski made the announcement during the Lake Improvement Association (LIA) meeting Saturday morning that drew a standing-room-only crowd at the Moose Lodge.
Also in attendence were State Rep. Jim Zehringer, R-Fort Recovery; a representative for John Boehner; and Robert Hiskey, a biology professor at Wright State University-Lake Campus, who has studied the lake's algae for years.
"This is difficult. It's stressful," Korleski said about the recent algae blooms and their effect on the water quality and lake community.
Pending the final draft recommendation from Ohio EPA consultant Tetra Tech Friday, the state may conduct a pilot test, applying aluminum sulfate - also known as alum - to a corner of the lake.
The alum, according to Korleski, would cause phosphorous to coalesce and drop to the bottom, making it unavailable to the algae.
The state would first pursue a pilot study, instead of a lake-wide application of alum, in order to determine the effects of the chemical on fish breeding, Korleski said. Korleski didn't say how the pilot study would be funded. He did say dumping alum over the entire 13,000-acre lake would cost millions of dollars.
Korleski pointed out that alum would hold the phosphorus for nine years - requiring additional chemical applications.
Some attendees at the meeting disagreed with using the chemical compound, but LIA President Tim Lovett said he supports the application, even if the water would be improved only for a few months.
No specifics on possible testing times were discussed.
Sean Logan, head of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, also said he supports alum dumping.
After recently observing a large fish-kill at the lake, Logan said he is willing to start over.
Korleski also said the state supports dredging the lake.
Logan defended the amount of dollars spent dredging Grand Lake.
More money is spent dredging Grand Lake than any other inland state park, with 25 percent - or $1 million of $4 million - of total state dredging dollars committed, he said.
While alum could possibly tend to the internal phosphorous loading problem at Grand Lake, the external phosphorous loading problem also must be addressed, according to the two men.
Korleski - who said the recent algae bloom and its degradation of the lake a few weeks ago was the worst he has ever seen in his life - cautioned the public against pointing fingers.
A large amount of the external phosphorous loading is caused from agricultural runoff coming in from the south side of the lake watershed, Korleski said.
"The blame game at the end of the day is not going to be very productive," he said, pointing out he senses polarization in the community.
Nutrient loading over the last 100 years from agricultural practices has made this part of the state economically viable, he said.
Though voluntary nutrient controls established on farms are good, Korleski said he wondered if they are enough.
Future mandatory - and controversial - control could come in the future through new legislation and new authority, according to Korleski.