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The Daily



10-06-03: New lake group wants meeting with ODNR


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 committee meeting.
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 St. Marys.
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,” Woodall said.
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 meeting.


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