EDIS Number: BH-20120317-34552-USA
Date / time: 17/03/2012 20:13:44 [UTC]
Event: Biological Hazard
State/County: State of Ohio
Location: St. Marys [Grand Lake ]
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A
Ohio's largest inland lake will be treated this spring with a chemical aimed at heading off the toxic algae blooms that have hurt area tourism. The state says it will treat all 13,000 acres of Grand Lake St. Marys, instead of just part of it, with aluminum sulfate beginning April 1. The alum is used to neutralize phosphorous, which gets into the lake from manure and chemical runoffs. The phosphorous feeds blue-green toxic algae, which produces a nerve toxin that can sicken humans and kill pets and other animals. The toxic algae led to previous lake closures and advisories against swimming and boating and even warnings against touching the water, all of which were devastating to the local tourism industry. This year's alum treatment will start two months earlier than last year's treatment and should allow the phosphorous to bind to the alum more effectively and improve water quality, officials said. "We are committed to improving the water quality at Grand Lake St. Marys," James Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said in a recent statement.
He said a healthy and thriving lake will benefit not only residents of Mercer and Auglaize counties, but all Ohioans. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency plans to use about $1.6 million in Ohio EPA Water Pollution Control Loan funds left over from last year when the state treated just the center of the lake with alum. The extra money for this year's $5 million cost for treating the whole lake will come from the Ohio Water Development Authority's Distressed Watershed Loan Program. Officials say last year's test that spread alum over 4,900 acres in the middle of the lake was more successful than expected. It removed 56 percent of the phosphorous from the treated areas, and Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally said the lake was able to stay open all summer because of the treatment. In January, Zehringer told a public forum on the cleanup efforts that the lake's water quality is moving in the right direction and that he hopes this year will be better than last year. Leaders of the St. Marys Restoration Commission have said their goal for this year is no health advisories. Commission manager Milt Miller praised the state for coming through with funds for the treatment. "The state in fact has done everything they have committed to do," Miller said. The alum treatment of Grand Lake St. Marys is part of a state approach that also includes rough fish removal, dredging, installation of a treatment train, wetland creation, watershed improvements and other water quality initiatives. Additional funding from ODNR's Division of Parks and Recreation will be used to finance investigations at other inland lakes in Ohio that have experienced harmful algae blooms the last few years.
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