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ST. MARYS — State officials Monday afternoon released details of yet another partnership aimed at helping in the battle to heal Grand Lake St. Marys.
Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally introduced a venture with Yellow Springs Incorporated that would provide real time data for Grand Lake St. Marys. The data will be available online at LiveLakeData.com.
“YSI joined the partnership,” Nally said during a press conference. “We have five monitors — four that the state is renting and one that YSI has donated to the project. It’s a great partnership.”
The monitoring stations, located in the four corners of the lake, will supply data every 15 minutes to the website. Anyone interested in seeing the data can do so by visiting the site and clicking on the green dots imposed on a map of the lake.
“YSI works with lakes all over the world,” YSI Executive Vice President Gayle Rominger said. “We are doing a lot of work in China and other developing areas. When we realized how bad the situation was here last summer, we said, ‘boy, we need to get more involved this is right in our back yard.’”
In March, officials with the Ohio EPA met with YSI personnel to develop a plan to monitor the lake’s conditions. The data generated from the monitoring stations will help provide a foundation to help develop tools to battle toxic algae.
“The data is proving to be very valuable so that the optimization of the treatment can have the most impact,” Rominger said. “And having the public have access to the data so they can see what’s going on in the lake themselves.”
The system will collect data ranging from oxygen levels, pH, temperatures, conductivity and turbidity. Rominger said that data also will show what effect the bluegreen algae is having on the lake at any given moment.
“By looking at all those parameters, you can start to see when the algae is going to go into a bloom or become worse,” Rominger told The Evening Leader. “That helps you optimize your treatment process.”
Nally said officials are trying to determine precisely when the algae produces the toxin.
“We’re trying to fill to void of when does the toxin trip,” Nally told The Evening Leader. “Right now we know we have the presence of bluegreen algae. The piece that we are missing is what causes bluegreen algae to trip and produce toxins. That’s really what we are trying to find out here.”
Nally said the cost of the project is approximately $24,000. While the state is renting four of the monitors, Nally said plans are in place to purchase the devices.
The equipment is slated to remain in the lake until November, which would give officials approximately four months of data. Nally said officials will then review the data to determine a course of action for next year.
Three weeks ago, a $3.5 million alum treatment wrapped up. Nally said it will take a few months to crunch the data regarding the effectiveness of the project.
“We’re looking to have a lot of the results on that, in conjunction with the data monitors, this winter,” Nally said.
The data also could help determine how a different species of algae dominated the lake last year. This year, the lake has been free of the neon green, foul smelling, floating scum that plagued it last year.
“We’re just trying to figure out how we got to that competitive exclusion,” Nally said. “Last year was a little anomaly so we need to figure out what happened last year versus this year and that’s what some of that data will tell us.”
In terms of a follow-up alum treatment next year, Nally said he has held discussions with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to review their budgets. Ohio’s biennial budget was approved three weeks ago.
“We are looking at what’s available and what’s not,” Nally said. “We just sat down with US EPA and talked about the federal 319 grants, which have funded a significant number of projects here. Those decisions will be made this fall.”