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Monday, August 15th, 2011

Lake sediment sampling starts

Sand could be used in construction industry, material for potting soil

By Nancy Allen

A private consultant hired by the state began overseeing the extraction of sedim. . .

GRAND LAKE - Interest in mining Grand Lake's sediment is growing.
The state this morning began extracting 60 lake sediment samples to determine if there is a market for the sand and nutrient-rich mud.
Consultant David Jahn of DWJ Resources of Signal Mountain, Tenn., who is overseeing the core sample project today, was recommended by the Ohio Aggregates and Industrial Minerals Association. Jahn said he is interested primarily in the sand for making concrete.
"It could have parts of concrete sand in it, but we're just not sure what's out there," Jahn said. "While we are hoping to find something like that, we will also be doing a basic soil analysis and hope to identify certain soil types we can find a use for."
The state will use a piece of equipment it purchased called a Vibracore, which vibrates 10-foot-long tubes into the lake's muck to retrieve the sediment samples. The unit cost $17,140 and was paid for from the state park's dredging budget. The Vibracore will be suspended from a tripod on a modified state-owned barge.
Jahn estimates it will take two to three weeks to retrieve the samples and a month to analyze the material.
For years, those working to solve the lake's water quality problems have suggested mining the lake's nutrient-laden muck to give the lake's blue-green algae less food to eat.
This is the third year that Grand Lake has experienced toxic blue-green algae blooms. People are advised to not swim in or swallow the lake's water due to algae toxins.
Also, Amiran Technologies of Oak Creek, Wisc., recently contacted the state for permission to demonstrate how the company's proprietary chemicals and equipment can turn the lake's muck into potting soil, Grand Lake St. Marys Park Manager Brian Miller said.
"In a couple weeks, Amiran Technologies will bring in a semi with a small processing unit on it, and they're going to put dredge material in and see if it spits out potting soil," he said.
Miller said he is hopeful, but has a lot of questions about the technology.
The company recently showed local farmers at Maria Stein Grain technology that turns manure into a pelletized, dry organic fertilizer.
The state dredges the lake to keep it navigable for watercraft and places the sediment in dredge material relocation (DMRAs) areas. DMRAs are becoming more difficult to find and dredging is expensive, Miller said. If the state could find a private entity that wants the sediment, that would be good, he said.
"We got to figure out how to get it out of this area and would some other entity be interested in taking it out," Miller said.
During a Lake Improvement Association meeting Saturday, president Tim Lovett mentioned that Battelle Institute continues to review proposals from about 60 companies that claim to have products and/or devices to help the lake. The Lake Restoration Commission hired Battelle to make sure no good ideas were missed by the U.S. EPA, which reviewed the proposals last year.
"Battelle is scrubbing the list, and we think they'll have six to 10 and then they'll come do a demonstration," Lovett said. "We've said we're not going to fix this thing with state money, we're going to fix it with private money from companies who make money from it."
Also at Saturday's meeting:
• Lovett said the LIA will add information to the LIA's website about what watershed farmers are doing to help the lake.
• Miller reported the state park received two state grants. A $25,000 grant will be used to install lighting at the St. Marys Boat Club and Freys channel boat launch area east of the state park office. A $50,000 grant will pay to make improvements to about 10 existing docks and add about eight more at the state park campground lagoon.
"People may say with the lake's condition, 'why are we investing in this stuff,' " Miller said. "But it's going to come back and we're going to be ready for it."
• Miller cautioned about piloting watercraft while intoxicated and to always have a designated skipper who is not drinking. State park officers have issued six Operating Under the Influence (OUI) tickets since the July 4 weekend. By comparison, Indian Lake has had 11, he said.
• It was announced the LIA's annual kids fishing derby for developmentally and physically disabled youth and adults is Sept. 14 in the pond near the East Bank shelterhouse.
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