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12-06-04 Group wants sediment tested

By Nancy Allen

  The Lake Restoration Committee (LRC) may have the sediment on the bottom of Grand Lake St. Marys tested to determine the amount of submerged nutrients and the affect it is having on water quality.

  LRC Chairman Vic Woodall told members of the Lake Improvement Association during their meeting Saturday that officials involved with the Upper Big Walnut Water Quality Partnership near Columbus had core sampling done in the sediment in the Hoover Reservoir. This was one of the early tests done by those officials to clean up the reservoir, which is used by the city of Columbus and several towns north and northeast of Columbus for drinking water. The reservoir had high levels of atrazine, which that threatening to become a problem.
  "This would be done to determine if the problem is with nutrients coming into the lake or the ones that are already there," Woodall said. "Some people argue with our lake that it's the big motorboats kicking up the sediment that keeps the lake dirty instead of the infamous blue green algae we have."
  The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service paid for the core sampling for the Hoover Reservoir, Woodall said.
  Grand Lake St. Marys is overrun with blue green algae, which feeds on the high amount of nutrients in the lake. The algae is what gives the lake its characteristic green color. Ohio EPA testing determined that agricultural runoff is the biggest contributor of excess nutrients in the 13,500-acre lake. Other excess nutrients come from storm water runoff, private septic systems and commercial lawn fertilizers.  Blue-green algae blooms when it is well fed by excessive nutrients. When the algae decays, it can choke off oxygen to fish and other aquatic life.
  The city of Celina may become more involved with water quality issues associated with the lake, which is the city's sole source of drinking water, said the LRC chairman.
  Woodall also reported the Mercer County Farm Service Agency (FSA) recently signed up four Mercer County farmers and one Auglaize County farmer to install grass-covered filter strips on their land. Filter strips planted along creeks and streams filter out sediment and attached nutrients before they get into the watershed and lake. Many experts have said that planting filter strips in highly erodible areas would go the farthest toward improving water quality than any other conservation method.
  The Coldwater and Marion Young Farmers organizations held a workshop last August that was attended by more than 50 county farmers explaining state and federal programs that pay landowners to install filter strips and other conservation practices aimed at improving water quality.


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