Group To Watch Lake Levels

CELINA — A newly formed committee will be working on a pilot project starting this week to help manage Grand Lake St. Marys.

Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission Manager Milt Miller said at the Lake Improvement Association’s meeting Saturday morning the committee will begin work this week to manage the lake’s water levels.

“Kudos to the leadership in Columbus, (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) Director (Jim) Zehringer and (Recreation and Resource Management) Deputy Director (Glen) Cobb,” Miller said. “They have empowered a local committee made up of eight or nine of us, both from downstream and on the lake, to begin pilot testing to do an adaptive lake management process and resurrect that from the past.”

Miller noted that the lake has recorded high levels.

“I think you all know — it’s pretty evident — that we have a very full lake,” he said, noting that the recent rain added to the high levels. “And we have yet to see the spring rains come.”

The committee, he said, will begin work today by opening up a tube to release water from the lake. Data will be collected throughout the week.

“We’re going to open up one of the tubes and leave it open for a week to see and measure the effects on the lake,” Miller said.

“We’ll have monitors in place through the city of Celina near the discharge point and then, through the county’s cooperation, we’re going to have monitors on down the Beaver clear to the Indiana line, so we can get some statistical data of what those tubes mean in terms of creating capacity in the lake.”

He noted that a slew of people are affected by the lake’s water retention.

“The people that are on the lake, the sewer systems around the lake, the people downstream suffer from its affects, so we have to be prudent with that,” he said.

The project, Miller said, is the first attempt at managing the Grand Lake St. Marys.

“That’s our first pilot — there will be others — in trying to come up with an adaptive plan that allows us as best we can to start managing the lake as we did in the old days,” Miller said.

In his report to LIA members, Miller also noted that the lake will again receive an alum treatment this year.

“The lake is fully intending to do an alum treatment this year,” he said.

“Specific details will be coming out this week. We’re sure and very confident that it will be very good news.”

LIA Vice President Mark Piening laid out the organization’s goals for 2012, which included: Support the Lake Restoration Commission; continue fundraising efforts; sponsor a children’s fishing derby; support the Lake Festival; continue communication and education through the organization’s website; develop plans for improved beaches; promote the Lake Improvement Association’s successes to the community; and promote the lake to encourage recreational use.

“Those are the goals that we’re going to be doing,” he said. “Those are listed on the website. We are going to go through them a little more extensively in April.”

In other business, LIA members:

• Heard updates from their committee leaders.

• Noted the success of the Beach Party, which raised more than $15,000. Piening noted that the group plans to hold the fundraiser again next year and will put together a survey for feedback on how to make next year’s event better.

• Noted the Barstool Open is slated for Aug. 11 and the golf outing will be held on Sept. 15.

• Heard from Laura Walker of the Mercer County Soil & Water Conservation District about lawn and garden soil sampling, which she noted should be done every three to five years.

• Reviewed a written report from Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Brian Miller about the projects that are slated to take place this year at the lake and park.

The next LIA meeting will be held at 10 a.m. April 7 at the Celina Moose Lodge.