Monday, June 3rd, 2013
By William Kincaid
Grand Lake dredging starts slowly
  CELINA - Lake dredging got off to a slow start in April due to computer issues but has since accelerated, a lake official said Saturday morning at the Lake Improvement Association meeting.
Tom Grabow, dredge supervisor at Grand Lake, Indian Lake and Lake Loramie, attributed initial delays to computer problems with suction dredges Brutus and Pump-A-Little.
Employees of the dredge manufacturers helped local officials with the problems, he said.
"We only lost maybe a week or so on that, but we got it out and now it's running - actually running extremely well," Grabow said. "Brutus has pumped 30,000 cubic yards in a month."
To prevent future downtime, Grabow wants local officials to get computer training.
"I think we need to be a little reactive on this," he said. "I am actually going to send a guy next year to learn the computers. I will have to buy the software so we can plug it in and figure some of this stuff out."
Dredging picked up in the last month, he said.
"It's been a fantastic May," Grabow said, predicting a good year of dredging. "We're up to 60,000, almost 61,000 cubic yards."
Pump-A-Little, which has worked on the 13,500-acre lake since 1999, will be deployed to channels near Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices this week while Brutus will dredge Montezuma Creek.
The Eagle, a traveling statewide dredge that arrived in 2011, will be cleaning up the harbor at West Bank for a few weeks.
"We'll have a lot of traffic on the ... southeast side of the lake," Grabow said, adding that crews will be fusing together 17,000 feet of dredge pipe.
The Prairie Creek treatment train, a site capable of holding 770,000 cubic yards of dredged material and designed to cleanse some of the creek water of phosphorous and sediment before entering the lake, is going to be great for the dredge program, Grabow said.
Grabow stressed that the site will be managed properly and not over-filled - there will be some vegetation, but no trees.
"We want to fill it to where we feel that it's at the proper height," he said, pointing out people are counting on officials to maintain a view across the bay.
State dollars for dredging have increased with concerns about the lake's toxic blue-green algae. The state park usually receives about $470,000 in state dredge funds annually. In 2011, the state park received an additional $150,000 to support a third dredge, the Eagle. The park also received $1.5 million in 2011 and $1.5 million in 2012 in state capital line item funds to pay for dredging and support projects, according to Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Brian Miller. The capital funds were leveraged by Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina.
In other news, Miller said the state park was busy Memorial Day weekend.
"We had a great Memorial Day at the park," he said. "We had 195 of our 211 campsites occupied."
Miller called the unoccupied sites "primitive," as they lack electricity that even people who put up tents want.
Also, Milt Miller, manager of the local Lake Restoration Commission, spoke about ongoing lake projects, including the six SolarBee units that aerate and circulate water.
Studies show that agitating and aerating water disrupts algae formation. Oxygen produced through aeration also helps beneficial bacteria grow and consume organic material in sediment.
"Our lake lacks aeration and circulation," he said. "And when given those two features, Mother Nature goes a long way in helping herself."
As part of the pilot test, four SolarBees were placed near the Celina water intake and two were placed near West Beach in St. Marys, he said.
"Our hope is that the readings get low enough that maybe we can have a beach open for the summer, which would be huge," Miller said. "We're right now in the process of collecting samples to know that."
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