By Nancy Allen
The missing link in efforts to leverage funding for cleaning up Grand Lake St. Marys is leadership, a member of a grassroots group pushing for cleaner lake water said Monday.
In a response this morning, Celina Mayor Sharon LaRue told The Daily Standard the city is ready to take on that leadership role.
Bill Ringo of the Lake Restoration Committee (LRC) said during the regular meeting that he gave information to LaRue and Celina Community Development Consultant Kent Bryan in recent weeks about how communities in Columbus and New York City succeeded in cleaning up reservoirs by attacking the problem as a drinking water issue.
Creating a coalition of existing city, county and state groups to make those communities aware of the drinking water issue is a key factor. Then persuading landowners to install grass-covered filter strips that keep impurities from getting into the cities' reservoirs was the next factor in fixing the water quality problems, Ringo said.
"We feel it is the city's responsibility to take a lead role in this. By being the government entity that we are, we can go and get the funds and leverage the funds we need to get this going," LaRue said this morning. The city is still researching a plan on how to organize a coalition to launch the effort. The issue likely will come up during a meeting Celina city officials will have with Ohio EPA officials later this month, she said.
"The money is there, the technology is there, but there is a missing link of leadership," Ringo said. "We gotta do our part to keep the information and education out there and we gotta stay positive. We just need someone to take the bull by the horns and ask for this money."
The city of Celina has been dealing with drinking water problems for years. The city currently is under findings and orders from the Ohio EPA to lower trihalomethane (THM) levels in its treated drinking water. The city uses chlorine to treat lake water, which is high in organic material. THMs are the byproduct of that treatment process and have been shown in studies to cause cancer in humans.
The city is researching building a new water treatment plant to solve the THM problem, which could cost several million dollars. The city recently found it cannot use ground water from test wells dug north of the city due to an obscure rule barring the discharge of water from one watershed into another.
Ringo said he and other lake supporters are researching how the Columbus and New York groups successfully fixed their drinking water problems.
"We are still researching how they did it and who took the lead role. It appears it was the cities that did," Ringo said. "How did these people organize for success? We would want to mirror that."