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07-03-06 Summit to address water quality, lake level


  Mercer County Commissioners are planning a public lake summit meeting for sometime in July, Commissioner Bob Nuding said at Saturday's Lake Improvement Association (LIA) meeting.

  Nuding said the summit will focus on two issues: water quality and the lake's water level.

  He stressed that commissioners will only be facilitating the event, not promoting any side.

  "We won't run the meeting, but only act as facilitators to get the right people there," Nuding said. "Everyone knows the key word in this whole process is money."

  Key officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, state and perhaps federal legislators will be invited, he said.  Local farmer Steve Zumberge has been urging the LIA and commissioners to support a lake water level drawdown policy and to push the issue with ODNR, which manages the lake. He farms land west of the lake that floods and is among five farmers who sued the state over farmland flooding they say has been worsened by the new spillway.

  Zumberge attended an LIA meeting and a meeting of the LIA's Lake Restoration Committee in recent months to ask for help promoting the issue. He also asked commissioners during their June 6 meeting to hold a public meeting on the matter and said it was an issue the county should get involved in.

  The state discontinued its drawdown policy for Grand Lake after the new West Bank spillway opened in 1997. The new spillway has tubes in it that can be opened to let water out of the lake. Rain overflow water from the lake enters Beaver Creek via the West Bank spillway and then flows into the Wabash River.

  The state now maintains a "hands off" policy, allowing nature to dictate the level of the lake.


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