Saturday, May 7th, 2011
By Shelley Grieshop
Alum plans change as rains degrade lake
  GRAND LAKE - Heavy rains in late winter and early spring have further degraded Grand Lake's water quality and prompted state officials to scale back the upcoming alum treatment.
Instead of using a low dose of alum sulfate across the entire 13,500-acre lake, a more concentrated treatment will focus on only 4,900 acres in the center of the lake. This area has the highest level of phosphorus, which has been washed off the mostly agricultural land surrounding the lake and into its water.
The alum treatment, which deactivates phosphorus, has been pushed back from mid-May to the first week of June.
Tim Lovett, president of the local Lake Improvement Association, said recent tests showed the lake's water quality is already worse than it's been in the past. Chlorophyll levels are extremely high, he said.
"There's more (blue-green) algae in the lake this year. The rain has brought in more nutrients than last year," he said.
Phosphorus in manure and fertilizers feeds blue-green algae, and its harmful blooms plagued the lake last year and negatively impacted area businesses and tourism.
The excess precipitation quickly changed the chemistry of the lake, said Milt Miller, president of the Lake Development Corporation.
"We have to follow the science," he said. "This is the better way to go. No one could have anticipated the early rains that we've had."
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is funding the alum treatment through a $5 million loan from the Ohio EPA Water Pollution Control Loan Fund. The money does not need to be repaid.
Officials believe the amended treatment strategy will be cheaper - about $3.4 million less. The project is expected to be rebid in the next few weeks since the amount of alum needed has decreased.
Lovett said he had high hopes for the whole-lake treatment but understands the need for the revision.
"At the end of the day, it's not going to be what we wanted," he said, adding you can't fight Mother Nature.
Tom Knapke, facilitator for the Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission, also expressed his disappointment.
"While we are disappointed that we cannot complete the entire alum treatment as originally designed, Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission members are encouraged by the adjusted alum application being implemented yet this spring," Knapke said.
Alum treatment is just one of several steps officials are taking to improve the lake's water quality. Also in the overall plan is dredging, rough fish removal, treatment trains in lake tributaries and other measures.
Additional online stories for this date
Print edition only stories for this date
• Mom opens heart, home to foster kids
• Drug abusers target bath salts
• Coldwater, St. John's lead the way for MAC baseball title
• Saldana keeps points lead after winning at Eldora Speedway
a_d
Sunday Night
45°
Cloudy
14%
Monday
59°
Rain Showers Likely
60%
Monday Night
44°
Slight Chance Rain Showers
21%
Tuesday
54°
Mostly Cloudy
14%
Tuesday Night
39°
Mostly Cloudy
11%
Wednesday
54°
Partly Sunny
9%
Wednesday Night
34°
Mostly Clear
4%
Thursday
55°
Mostly Sunny
4%
Thursday Night
39°
Partly Cloudy
5%
Friday
61°
Partly Sunny
5%
Friday Night
41°
Mostly Clear
5%
3 Day
Extended
a_da_d
camera_logo Photo Albums
Friday, October 17
index pict
Friday, October 17
index pict
video_logoOnline Video
Thursday, October 2
index pict
Accident at 127 and 119
Monday, September 29
index pict
Grand Lake Marathon