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Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Vendors sell ideas to LRC

Algae fix

By Nancy Allen
GRAND LAKE - The local Lake Restoration Commission met privately Wednesday with six vendors looking to do pilot studies on Grand Lake next year to help solve its toxic blue-green algae problem.
The fixes focused on aeration devices and application of a new, unnamed substance. Another vendor also has a satellite imagery system for detecting areas with high phosphorous levels, LRC Facilitator Tom Knapke said after the meeting.
"It looks like all six vendors have a possible solution that could be beneficial to Grand Lake," Knapke said. "The six that were here, we are willing to work with at this point."  
One or two have to discuss with other company officials how much money they want to spend for the studies. The testing would be done at the companies' expense, and no local dollars would be spent, Knapke said.
Knapke would not release the names of the vendors. The names and details of the studies will be released after Jan. 6, the date the LRC has given vendors to confirm if they plan to move forward.
The companies need to receive permits from Ohio's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agency to test their products and devices in the state lake.
Knapke said the LRC wants the pilot tests done this spring and summer.
The companies will need to coordinate start dates and locations for the tests with Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Brian Miller.
"We're going to have to make sure the projects will not impact the public's use of the lake and to make sure they are run at the same time and under like conditions so it's fair," he said.
Miller said the LRC is still pursuing a whole lake alum treatment next year as a short-term solution. The fixes presented by vendors Wednesday are for long-term solutions.
Alum deactivates phosphorous, the algae's main food source. The first alum treatment was done on the lake last summer and cost the state $3.4 million. LRC consultant TetraTech has recommended a series of alum treatments in the short term to keep algae blooms at bay and prevent state water advisories.
Miller said the vendors' pilot tests are a way for the companies to promote their products.
"Basically they are trying to sell us their technologies," he said. "You want to test drive a car before you buy it ... it's the same thing here."
Miller said the companies will be required to use third party companies to monitor the projects and produce outcome reports.
The vendors invited to the meeting were whittled down from a list of 73 proposals reviewed by the Battelle Institute, a research firm being used by the LRC.
Blue-green algae, actually cyanobacteria, are common in most Ohio lakes but grow thick in water polluted with phosphorus from manure, sewage and fertilizers that run off land. In the 58,000-acre Grand Lake Watershed, most of the phosphorous runs off farmland, the predominant land use.
A thick, never-before-seen algae that grew on the lake in 2010 resulted in the state warning people not to touch the water or boat on it due to liver and nerve toxins produced by the algae that sickened humans and animals. Businesses that depend on the lake suffered large losses. The state this year issued another advisory but said boating was OK. Human illnesses also were reported this year.
Grand Lake is among 21 lakes across the state to experience toxic algae problems in recent years.
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