In the six months since an action plan to clean Grand Lake St. Marys was released, there has been visible progress toward improving the water quality and economy of the region. What the future holds for the area is still uncertain, but there are many causes for concern and few beacons of hope for area residents.
Environmental professionals and government officials concluded last summer that the thick mats of algae resulting in “no contact” and surface scum advisories for the lake were a direct result of excessive nutrient loading to surface water. Although there has been an implementation of manure spreading regulations for about 300 area farmers, strict enforcement of the rules won’t be a priority until 2013.
The Ohio EPA’s application of aluminum sulfate on the lake remains inconclusive, a Fish Consumption Advisory is still in place due to uncertainty that high levels of microcystin toxins are still present in fish, and failed local businesses continue to reflect the economic climate of the area.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has identified the the region as a “watershed in distress.”
To make matters worse, the state of Ohio is in the midst of a budget crisis, highlighted by a reported $9 billion deficit. Activities such as dredging and the further alum applications to the lake will be costly. Although Gov. John Kasich has deemed the lake a priority, it remains to be seen if the budget will allow for continued water quality and economic improvements.
Tight state budget could be bad news for St. Marys lake [Dayton Daily News] Grand Lake St. Marys Toxic Algae [Ohio Environmental Protection Agency] Image Credit: Derek Jensen