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Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Donations reach $450,000 toward test technology to clean Grand Lake

By Nancy Allen

This new 60-by-15-foot barge was delivered to Grand Lake St. Marys State Park on. . .

Buoyed by recent donations totaling $75,000 from two area agricultural businesses, the Grand Lake Restoration Initiative has collected almost $450,000 to test sediment removal technology in the lake.
Fundraising chairman Milt Miller announced at Saturday's meeting of the nonprofit Lake Improvement Association (LIA) that Cooper Family Foundation, affiliated with Cooper Farms, donated $50,000, and Advanced Agri-Solutions Cooperative donated $25,000.
Miller also said the $500,000 goal to test the technology has been raised to $600,000 due to unforeseen expenses.
"When you do something like this there is always a learning curve," Miller said. "There were expenses we hadn't anticipated, like running electric to the sites and the science involved with testing and analyzing the water."
Since January, the initiative has been raising money and giving presentations throughout the community on the technology to be tested.
The test involves placing two aerating units, called Airy Gators, in bays at Southmoor Shores and Park Grand Resort and three devices, called Collectors, in Beaver Creek, Big Chickasaw Creek and Barnes Creek to collect sediment. The Airy Gators were turned on last week. The first of the three Collectors should arrive and be installed in mid-May and the second in late May. Funds are still being raised for the third.
Initiative members hope to prove the technology works and then use the results to leverage state and federal grants to test it on a larger scale in the lake.
The initiative is made up of officials from the cities of Celina and St. Marys, Auglaize and Mercer counties, Wright State University-Lake Campus, the LIA, the nonprofit Lake Development Corporation (LDC), Grand Lake St. Marys State Park, the St. Marys Community Foundation, the Mercer County Civic Foundation, Grand Lake/Wabash Watershed Alliance and the Auglaize & Mercer Counties Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Miller challenged each of the roughly 70 LIA members attending Saturday's meeting to gather $500 in pledges before the next LIA meeting in June.
The public is invited to a presentation on the Airy Gators and Collectors at 9 a.m. Saturday at Behm's Restaurant.

State park takes delivery of barge:
Grand Lake St. Marys State Park received a new 60-by-15-foot barge Friday, park manager Craig Morton said during Saturday's Lake Improvement Association meeting.
"It came in two sections and the Lake Loramie dredge crew helped us put it in at East Bank Marina," Morton said. "It replaces the Grand Clam (barge) that developed a hole in it and has been cut up and gone to salvage."
Morton said the new $214,272 barge will transport the region's long-reach excavator and 50-ton crane used for projects such as dredging, stump removal and shoreline construction. The barge was paid for with Ohio Division of Watercraft Waterway Safety funds.
Morton said the lake's water level is 7 inches above normal pool and that the new West Bank boathouse should be operational soon. It will house three patrol boats, one each from the local state park, Mercer County Sheriff's Office and the state's division of watercraft.
He also noted the lake's water is as clear as he has seen it in his seven years as manager. The reason likely is the winter's prolonged snow and ice cover and resulting new water in the lake.
A dredge material relocation area (DMRA) off the north side of state Route 703 has been completed, Morton said. The DMRA will be used to hold sediment pumped from channels at Northwood housing subdivision, a bay area and part of the main lake near the subdivision.
- Nancy Allen
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