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02-21-06 Grand Lake restoration group wants wetlands built inside watershed

By Nancy Allen

  A member of the nonprofit Lake Improvement Association's Lake Restoration Committee (LRC) urged the city of Celina to construct a mitigated wetland within the Grand Lake Watershed, rather than outside it, as part of the city's walkway project.

  The comment was directed at Kent Bryan, Celina's community development consultant, who attended Monday night's LRC meeting in Celina.

  "I think it would be wrong recommending mitigating wetlands outside the watershed," said LRC member Jeff Vossler to Bryan. "The LIA would be willing to work with the city of Celina to build wetlands in the watershed."

  Bryan last week proposed Celina pursue buying part of a 55-acre tract of land along Coldwater Creek, which is inside the watershed. The land would cost $12,500 per acre, or $10,000 an acre if all 55 acres were bought. The city hopes other organizations and entities would join in the effort.

  Another less expensive option would involve building mitigated wetlands on two city-owned tracts of floodprone land along Beaver Creek, which lie outside the watershed.  Building wetlands on Beaver Creek would do nothing to improve lake water quality because the creek flows away from the lake, but it would satisfy EPA mitigation requirements, Bryan said Monday.

  Though there are two options available, Bryan said he believes building wetlands along Coldwater Creek is the "environmentally right thing to do," but that monetary limitations, rather than what's right, many times determine a final plan. The final plan will be the decision of Celina city council members.

  The city of Celina is required to create at least three acres of new wetlands to offset the surface area of the lake that would be lost when the lake is filled in to build a mile-long concrete walkway along West Bank Road. The city cannot get a permit to build the walkway until a mitigation plan is created and approved by the state. When strategically constructed along tributaries, wetlands can be used to let sediment and pollutants settle out before the water reaches lakes or streams.

  Also during Monday's LRC meeting, Chuck Coleman from the Copeland Corp. in Wapakoneta talked about using biogas, such as methane from livestock manure, to make electricity. Copeland makes compressors used in some biogas operations.

  The LRC is trying to find alternative uses for the thousands of tons of livestock waste produced by animals in the watershed.

  Coleman said biogas electric generation facilities require lots of maintenance, and the people running them must know what they are doing.

  He talked of a facility that produces biogas from unused potato skins to produce electricity. In China there are biogas digesters that use methane gas from pig waste to create electricity for home use.

  "It's no doubt there are successful ones out there. It's the ones who don't do their homework that fail," Coleman said. "When it works, it's beautiful. You're talking about something that was thrown away and now using it to generate heat and power."

  The next LRC meeting is 7:30 p.m. March 21 at the Celina Moose Lodge.


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