Grand Lake St. Marys dredging exceeding goals

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources exceeded its goals this year for dredging Grand Lake St. Marys, a lake plagued by outbreaks of cyanobacteria that have shut down recreation there at times.

The department said Thursday it set a goal of removing 300,000 cubic yards of sediment during the 2013 dredging season. Ohio State Parks exceeded that goal by removing 302,226 cubic yards of material this year - a record for Ohio’s largest inland lake.

“We are really proud of those goals,” ODNR Director Jim Zehringer said. “We’ll go as long as it takes to get the lake dredged properly. It took a long time to get the lake in the condition it is in and it will take a long time to get the lake in the condition we want it to be.”

The material will be used as fill for 40 acres across the street from the Wright State University Lake Campus.

The ODNR and private groups this year removed more than 17,000 pounds of bottom-dwelling fish from the lake with the expectation it will help cut the amount of sediment stirred up in the lake.

A landmark project finished this year is the Prairie Creek treatment train that was installed to prevent dissolved phosphorus in farmland runoff from entering the lake. The runoff acts as a nutrient that fires up cyanobacteria outbreaks.

The ODNR said initial testing indicates the treatment train is reducing up to 80 percent of phosphorus loading. A second treatment train is in design for future installation.

House Bill 59 has secured a new suction dredge for the lake and another for Indian Lake, the ODNR said. The dredges will be constructed by Ellicott Dredge during the winter and will be delivered to the lakes in late spring 2014, the department added.

In 2012, with the help of “Brutus,” a new dredge, as well as “Eagle” and “Pump-a-Little,” 289,000 cubic yards of sediment were dredged from the lake.

In 2011, approximately 272,000 cubic yards of sediment was removed. The ODNR said the dredging team at Grand Lake will spend the off-season constructing dredge material relocation areas and doing maintenance on the equipment to get ready for next year’s dredge season.

Next year’s dredging goal has not been set, the ODNR added.

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