CELINA — Officials from a Wisconsin firm gave a presentation to members of a lake group Saturday morning that included plans to help clean up the watershed and water of Grand Lake St. Marys.
Paul Chadwick, vice president of sales and marketing for BioGenesis Enterprises Inc., presented members of the Lake Improvement Association with plans his firm has that could help it profit from cleaning up the watershed. The company uses a process that allows it to take animal waste and turn it into an efficient, organic fertilizer and dredged lake material and turn it into potting soil.
“We think we have some things you are going to be pretty excited about,” Chadwick said.
Chadwick broke the plan into two phases — upstream and downstream. The upstream solution would tackle the problem of manure running into the lake via tributaries.
“We can help with that because we can collect the manure,” Chadwick said. “Instead of going back onto the crops, we can collect it, process it and then turn it into a beneficial reuse product.”
The downstream solution would tackle the issues of where to place dredged sediment from Grand Lake St. Marys. Currently, park officials enter into agreements with property owners for parcel to dump the sediment. Chadwick said his company would take the sediment and turn it into potting soil.
“Those are two things that will definitely help cure the lake,” Chadwick said.
The process is highly scalable and sustainable. Chadwick said he has no doubts if given the opportunity, his company could turn a profit. To do so, Chadwick said the company would build two facilities — one to handle manure and one dredged material. Those plants also would create jobs in the area as well as allow the existing agricultural community to grow.
“This is an agricultural community,” Chadwick said. “We do not have to cure the lake at the expense of the ag community. The ag community can grow and we can restore the lake at the same time.”
The first plant would handle the manure and would be located in the watershed. Chadwick said he has already zoned in on several proposed locations.
“They need to be in the watershed for logistic and transportation purposes,” Chadwick said. “We’ve worked with some local partners who have been very helpful.”
The second plant, which would handle the dredged material, would more than likely be located on the north side of the lake, Chadwick said.
After processing the manure, it would be turned into liquid or pelletized fertilizer. Chadwick passed some samples around the crowd as he talked about the process and its benefits.
“This is from this area when we did the demos,” Chadwick said of the fertilizer samples.
Chadwick said the dredged material processing plant would help eliminate landfill and transportation costs. Chadwick said the bulk of the potting soil could then be sold across the country.
Chadwick also laid out some future steps that could help the region once the lake is restored. Among the steps were creating a green zone around the lake to prevent phosphorus from entering the water as well as dredging the lake to a greater depth.
“I think we will be providing quite a few jobs in the area with the two plants operating,” Chadwick said.
Currently, company officials are working on securing funding to help cover start-up costs associated with the processing plants. Officials also are working on secure sources of manure, which Chadwick said would include 100,000 tons of swine waste and 50,000 tons of poultry waste.
“That’s what we need in commitments in order to build the plant,” Chadwick said of the waste.
Chadwick said officials are working with the state of Ohio to secure a source of dredged material. Once an agreement is reached, Chadwick said work can begin.
“The state of Ohio is actually totally behind this,” Chadwick said. “I am confident that with all that support we will be able to move forward.”
Chadwick also reiterated the fiscal feasibility of the project.
“This operation will stand on its own,” Chadwick said. “It will absolutely cash flow, both the potting soil and the fertilizer plants will be profitable but we may need some help on bridge loans and construction loans to get this thing kick started.”
The goal is to break ground on the fertilizer plant first, as soon as this fall.
“We are moving at light speed to make this thing happen,” Chadwick said.
The LIA also selected its Guardian of the Lake winner. This year, Linda May, of Bruns Realty Group, received the honor for her work with marketing the LIA and its fight to help the lake.
“You guys really got me,” May said. “Thank you so much. I don’t really feel like I have done that much. I really love working for the commission.”
The Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission also accepted a $20,000 donation from the Royal Bank of Canada as part of its Blue Water Project. The funds will go toward restoring wetlands as well as work at Praire Creek.
“RBC is pleased to be able to step up here,” Scott Stubbins said. “We are pleased to support the great work here that is going on here at Grand Lake St. Marys and we hope this grant can be a meaningful part of the work that is done here to restore this great lake back to what it used to be and what it should be.”
The next meeting of the LIA is scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 5 at the Moose Lodge in Celina.