ST. MARYS — More than a dozen state and local officials turned out Monday afternoon to officially welcome the newest member in the fight to heal Grand Lake St. Marys.
“I’d like to welcome you to the prettiest 57 tons on Grand Lake St. Marys,” Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission Manager Milt Miller told a crowd gathered during the dedication ceremony of the park’s newest dredge, Brutus. “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Brutus to our lake and it’s just one more positive step as we restore the health of this wonderful asset called Grand Lake St. Marys.”
Brutus, a $670,000 12-inch suction dredge, arrived at Grand Lake St. Marys approximately two weeks ago. The dredge, which will replace a 1968 dredge, was built by Ellicott Dredges in Baltimore, Md.
“This is a team effort,” State Sen. Keith Faber said. “We started working a number of years ago trying to address the opportunities with Grand Lake St. Marys ... It’s open for business this year and we’re going to fight on behalf of the state and the community to make sure that (Grand Lake St. Marys) comes back as quickly as it can. The lake didn’t get in its current condition overnight and it’s not going to take a magic bullet to get it perfect.”
Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Jim Zehringer touted Brutus’ addition to the state’s tool box. Zehringer said the arrival of the dredge illustrated the teamwork the region has in the fight for the lake.
“It’s cooperation — when everyone works together, we quit pointing fingers, we quit blaming other groups, we just work together to try to solve problem is when we get things done,” Zehringer said. “This dredge is certainly one of those problems that we needed to solve. We need to have clear waterways out there ... This is another one of the many important tools that we are going to incorporate here at Grand Lake St. Marys.”
Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally said Brutus is not the only component currently being used in the restoration of the lake.
“We’re going to see the kick-off of the alum treatment for this year,” Nally said, noting the lakewide alum application started Monday morning. “We said we were going to try to get in the first week of April or ice off ... They are ready to roll and they have been planning this for a long time and that’s a success story.”
Grand Lake St. Marys Park Manager Brian Miller called the dedication ceremony one of the bright spots in the lake’s recent history.
“It’s just a great day,” Miller told The Evening Leader. “Dedicating Brutus, which is replacing the St. Marys dredge, means it’s beginning its career here at the lake and it’s going to be a 40 to 50-year career here. Also today, the first loads of alum went into the lake. It’s just more great progress at Grand Lake St. Marys to turn the water quality issues around.”