News releases from Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s office and the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said last week that a public-private partnership is bringing results in monitoring water quality levels at Grand Lake St. Marys.
Working with Ohio DNR and EPA, YSI, Inc. of Yellow Springs has installed water monitoring stations at the 13,000 acre lake. For the past two years Grand Lake St. Mary’s has been a stew of toxic algae. The state has tried repeated treatments of alum in the water to get the algal blooms under control. Recreational activities at the lake have come to a standstill causing problems for the local economy during outdoor activity seasons.
The state is also providing a website where citizens can track water quality at Grand Lake St. Marys. The site can be accessed at LiveLakeData.com. Ohio EPA has also set up a site for general information on the problem of algal blooms around the state at OhioAlgaeInfo.com.
Regarding the Lake St. Marys monitoring, staff from ODNR said the real-time data from the YSI systems helped them better manage the process of applying the June alum treatments to the lake to reduce phosphorus. The system allowed the department staff to monitor dissolved oxygen levels during the alum application. The attempt to reduce the levels of phosphorus, which feeds the algae, is one step in the multi-faceted, multi-year approach at the lake. Continuous data from the systems will feed state officials information throughout the project. In addition to these real-time sites, the U.S. Geological Survey also maintains a monitoring station on the lake, which measures water quality at two points in the water column.
Dr. Harry Gibbons, water quality lead at TetraTech, the state’s consultant for the alum project, accesses the water quality data for Grand Lake St. Marys from his office in Seattle, Wash.
“I had remote access to the real-time data, which allows me to review one to seven days of data and make recommendations for the next day’s alum treatment operation. I was able to base my recommendations on a comprehensive dataset; this is a superior method to manual sampling methods to collect data,” Gibbons said.