Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
By William Kincaid
County gets grant to fund phosphorus reduction
Money for Grand Lake
  GRAND LAKE - Mercer County commissioners have been awarded a $484,000 grant from the Ohio EPA to help put a $1 million system in place to reduce the amount of phosphorus getting in Grand Lake.
The system, called a water quality treatment train, would be installed in Prairie Creek on the south side of the lake in late summer or early fall. Prairie Creek was chosen because it is the best sample of the problems going on, Ebbing said.
One of the main problems with Grand Lake is phosphorus, which is found in manure and fertilizers and feeds the blue-green algae that is producing toxic blooms in the lake. The toxins have caused the state to issue advisories telling people to stay out of the water.
The county would be required to match the grant with $447,000 - $150,000 from a line item approved through the soil and water conservation district office over a year ago and $300,000 worth of in-kind labor and state dredging equipment.
Commissioners on Tuesday afternoon tabled a motion to accept the grant to give Mercer County Economic Development Office Director Jared Ebbing, who applied for the grant, additional time to review the lengthy document. They plan to accept the money when they meet Thursday.
The extensive project calls for the installation of two devices, a sediment collector and an Airy Gator, as well as using chemical treatments, stream restoration, traditional wetlands, floating wetlands and a cove - all of which will essentially create a backstop for the lake, Ebbing said.
And if the treatment train system is effective, it could be duplicated in other tributaries leading into the lake, Ebbing said.
"It's another step in the right direction," Ebbing said, pointing out it won't stop all detrimental material from entering the lake.
First, chemicals would be applied to the water upstream. Either alum or a natural soy-based floc would be used to cause the phosphorus to coalesce and drop to the bottom.
Ebbing said the phosphorus, as well as sediment, sand and other materials, then would accumulate in a collector, which would be placed somewhere on the south side of state Route 219.
Also, stream restoration techniques - to ensure the creek is flowing well - would be employed and traditional wetlands, which help filter water, would be established using a combination of land from Franklin Township and the state.
Ebbing said Franklin Township Trustees have committed to the project.
Also, a cove with a protective barrier would be created using dredged material, Ebbing said. An Airy Gator, which contains a series of rotating disks that infuse oxygen into the sediment layer on the lake's bottom, would be installed in the middle of the cove. The oxygen allows beneficial organisms to grow and eat the organic material in the sediment.
Floating wetlands also would be established near the cove, Ebbing said.
Ebbing stressed the project is just one of several long-term initiatives the county is pursuing to mitigate the effects of phosphorus loading.
"We are looking at many different things," Ebbing said, pointing out that officials are researching lakes in California and Minnesota that have the same problems as Grand Lake.

Request to governor:
The Daily Standard sent a request today to Gov. Ted Strickland's office asking why the governor has not visited the area to view the situation at Grand Lake.
His spokesperson, Amanda Wurst, said a written statement would be sent to the newspaper, but it was not received before today's edition was printed.
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