Pilot Project To Start

ST. MARYS — The latest in a string of pilot projects aimed at healing the waters of Grand Lake St. Marys was scheduled to start today.

Officials from OrganicPonds.com were slated to start placing aeration devices in a channel near Otterbein as part of a pilot project. Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission Manager Milt Miller said the project also includes another nuisance that could help improve water quality in the lake.

“We know aeration clearly works around the lake,” Miller told The Evening Leader. “We continue to explore other aeration processes just to make sure we aren’t missing any. What OrganicPond brings is a harmless microbe — the microbes eat up the organisms out of the bottom of the lake and that’s where the phosphorus is.”

Miller said other pilot projects used microbes, but the organisms died because of a lack of oxygen. Miller noted company officials have told him their microbes can be active with or without sufficient levels of oxygen.

“We are trying to hurry this project in,” Miller said. “Their microbes are most active at water above 50 degrees, so we are really trying to get this in the water and give it time to work before the temperatures go down. We checked the water on Friday and it was at 60 degrees. They are saying they need about six weeks at above 50 degrees.”

Officials selected Otterbein because of the ability to close off a channel for the study. Miller also noted that despite the drought, the facility’s channels have sufficient depth.

“They just did some dredging and have good water depth,” Miller said. “We also can close off  a channel, which helps because we need a control area every time we run a test project. That will give us a control area to use. They’ll also do a companion test in a part of the channel that is open to the lake. That will give us a good comparison.”

For each company that requests the opportunity for a pilot project, officials must meet three requirements — all work must be done in Grand Lake St. Marys, a third-party must validate all data and the company must pay for those costs.

“Normally when we get to that last part, companies back away,” Miller said. “Similar to the Kria Ionizer we have in Celina, this company did not back away and will be here.”