CELINA — The successful implementation of a treatment train, record dredging and a continued focus on cleaning up Grand Lake St. Marys were some of the highlights that were touched upon during Saturday’s Lake Improvement Association meeting.
Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission Manager Milt Miller gave LIA members a rundown of some of the group’s accomplishments during the past 12 months. At the top of the list was the Prairie Creek treatment train.
“A lot certainly has been accomplished,” Miller said. “And we are proud of that.”
The treatment train acts like a filter as it removes phosphorus and other debris from water before it hits the lake. The device has exceeded lake officials’ expectations, Miller noted.
“By all accounts, it’s been an extreme success,” Miller said. “We didn’t expect the phenomenal results that we got. We are leveraging that success, through Columbus, and now we are looking at very strong...installation at our tributaries.”
That treatment train will be expanded next year. Work is expected to start in the coming weeks and the expanded treatment train is expected to be operational by next year.
“If everything goes right, by early next spring, you’ll see twice the size of that facility and we will be talking about cleansing 60 million gallons a month instead of 30 million,” Miller said.
The wheels also have been set in motion for the formation of a lake facilities authority. The legally recognized entity would allow the local lake group to apply for and obtain grants — and possibly in the future place tax levies on the ballot for voter approval — to help in the fight to heal the lake.
“It gives us legal status,” Miller said. “We have had to work harder than we should have in going after grants because we had no legal status ... Some preliminary meetings have been held and we are working on that process now.”
A fourth dredge is slated to hit Grand Lake St. Marys next year. This year with three dredges, crews were able to remove more than 300,000 cubic yards of phosphorus-laden silt from the lake.
“They set a dredging record,” Miller said. “Our biggest challenge remains where to put the spoils and we are working with the state to be their biggest ally and help them through that process. We are going to look at some more in-lake installations.”