By NANCY ALLEN
Members of a new group trying to improve the water quality in
Grand Lake St. Marys want to meet sometime next month with officials
at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
During Saturday’s meeting of the nonprofit Lake Improvement
Association (LIA), the new group, called the Lake Restoration
Committee, decided to remain under the umbrella of the LIA and
work as a committee of that group.
Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Assistant Manager Brian Miller
said he is trying to arrange the meeting between the restoration
committee and chiefs of ODNR’s divisions of wildlife,
soil and water conservation and watercraft. The committee plans
to give the same presentation that was given at the first restoration
The restoration committee’s first meeting on Sept. 24
at the Celina Moose Lodge drew nearly 90 people. During that
meeting, LIA President and restoration committee chairman Bill
Ringo gave a 30-minute presentation on existing water quality
data he gathered from the Ohio EPA, OSU Extension, local watershed
groups and other sources.
Ringo said the prevention of sediment and the nutrients attached
to the sediment from entering the lake should be the group’s
No. 1 priority. Ringo noted that an ODNR report published in
1999 and commissioned by the founding officials of the St. Marys
Watershed Project said if the current rate of soil erosion continues,
the 13,500-acre lake would eventually fill in with sediment.
Members of the restoration committee said they decided to form
the group because they were not satisfied with the progress
of existing watershed groups — the Grand Lake St. Marys
Watershed Project that formed in 1999 and the Wabash Watershed
Alliance that formed in 2001.
A watershed includes the area of land and its tributaries that
drain into a body of water — in this case, Grand Lake
Water quality testing done by EPA officials in 1999 showed the
Wabash River Watershed in Mercer and Darke counties and the
Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed in Mercer and Auglaize counties
were the most degraded of any in the entire state. Most sections
were ranked poor while the rest were ranked fair. There were
no areas ranked good.
LIA member Rick Nurrenbrock held up a copy of an ODNR report
published in 1987. The document is a restoration plan for the
lake, the first phase of which is done already, Nurrenbrock
said. Some parts of the first phase include putting rip rap
(rocks) on the banks of creeks leading into the lake, in channels
at various landings and constructing the rock extension at Windy
Point. The report also addresses other water quality issues.
“All these things that we’re sitting here talking
about today and trying to accomplish are in this book,”
Nurrenbrock said, waiving the report above his head. “We
gotta find these people who started this and pick it up and
keep marching with it.”
Restoration committee chairman Vic Woodall said the group must
continue and make sure it does positive things and not quit.
“I’ve been telling people we ain’t going away
and we’re here to stay until the job gets well along,”
The next meeting of the Lake Restoration Committee is 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 23 at the Celina Moose Lodge.
Also during Saturday’s meeting, LIA members learned that:
• Volunteers are needed to take daily water samples in
a few areas on the lake’s south side that consistently
have high readings of phosphates and nitrates.
• Grand Lake St. Marys State Park officials this year
finished dredging projects at the mouth of the East Bank spillway,
three channels at Southmoor Shores housing subdivision in Auglaize
County and the channel between the two bridges at Club Island
in Mercer County. Dredging is ongoing at two channels and at
a bay at Kozy Kampground. The dredging of Prairie Creek in Mercer
County should begin this week, Miller reported.
• The LIA has gained 96 new members this year toward its
goal of 100.
• LIA offices will be nominated and voted on at the December