SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

July 25, 2013

Algae CAN be solved!

Letters to the Editor

Indian Lake prevented algae problem

TIM PICCIANO

forecast

Blue-green algae shutting down Ohio lake recreation  (“Bill could curb a source of algae,” Dispatch editorial, Monday)?  Not everywhere. There is one Ohio lake that doesn’t have this problem and is the best-kept secret for lake- loving people.

guess

  • About 25 years ago, stakeholders at Indian Lake got together and held a series of meetings about what they could do to protect the long-term future of the lake. This included farmers, business owners, residents, government officials and the like. They effectively formed the first watershed-management organization in Ohio.

What they accomplished through their diligent and dedicated efforts is amazing. About 75 percent of the 63,000 acres of watershed to this 5,800 acre lake is now under no-till farming.

Twenty-five years ago, an estimated 80,000 tons of sediment was flowing into the lake each year. That is down to 15,000 tons today. Fertilizer run-off into Indian Lake is not even an issue. Visibility 25 years ago was 6 inches; now it’s 31/2 feet.

These people were true visionaries who sought to prevent problems, probably not even knowing about blue-green algae back then.

Why the other lakes in Ohio didn’t follow the lead of Indian Lake as far as watershed management, I don’t know, but they — and we through our tax dollars  — are paying for that lack of common sense now.

So the next time you want to go fishing, boating, swimming or dining lakefront,  remember there is a lake just one hour from   Columbus that doesn’t have and won’t have that problem:  Indian Lake.

TIM PICCIANO,

Managing member of Cranberry Resort                                                                                         Waterfront Bar & Grill Indian Lake

glyph

(Thus is remarkable isn’t it?  It shows what people CAN DO  when they have a mind to effect a positive change.  They were intelligent and resourceful and had the gumption to get it done.  Yet our entire state is spending millions and continues to loose the battle, draining away  our limited resources and watching the problem worsen with each passing year.   But do you want to know what is so confounding about this? 

This is not NEWS being reported by our elected officials from any direction – – this happens to be a “Letter to the Editor”  which I chose to treat more prominently. . . ya know – showing it off; importing some local pics.    I want people to know about this!  IT CAN BE DONE!

I am also including a second piece to reinforce the above story,  showing how extensive the problem is.  Jan)

Toxic blue-green algae found in 16 states this year

By Danae King THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Ohio has company when it comes to toxic algae.

Sixteen states’ lakes, rivers, ponds and streams have been affected by blue-green algae this year. Resource Media, a nonprofit environment and health-advocacy group, says each of the states has at least one waterway affected by toxic algae. The algae, also called cyanobacteria, are common in most lakes. They grow thick in warm, still water and feed on phosphorus from manure, sewage and fertilizers that rains wash into streams.

Right now in Ohio, there are algae blooms in Grand Lake St. Marys, East Fork Lake and Lake Erie. In past years, as many as 20 inland lakes have been affected.

“Cyanobacteria also like warm weather,” said Rick Stumpf, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That’s why it pops up during summer months.

“Basically all of the Midwest has issues of this sort,” said David Culver, who is a limnologist — a person who studies inland lakes — at Ohio State University and an algae expert. “Because we’re so agricultural, we have lots of nutrient runoff that encourages the growth of harmful algal blooms.”

Seven lakes in Indiana currently have algae blooms, said Cyndi Wagner, who is with that state’s office of water quality. Wagner said it had been worse in past years. “We just monitor the lake and make sure people know the status of it,” she said. Indiana officials test 16 lakes every month. If a bloom is found, they are tested every two weeks. Two reservoirs in Indiana that are monitored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also have toxic algae.

One lake has tested positive for algae this year in Nebraska, which monitors 50 lakes and beaches weekly, said Mike Archer, state lakes coordinator. The agricultural state works to reduce farm runoff, he said.

About 250 state agencies participate in an informal discussion group hosted three times a year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Keith Loftin, a research chemist with the Geological Survey, and Lorrie Backer, a senior scientist with the CDC, put the group together a few years ago to address a growing number of questions from states.

The group’s discussions also give federal researchers an idea of new areas they might need to concentrate on.

Vermont, which participates in the discussion group, is monitoring blooms in three lakes, including the 128-milelong Lake Champlain. The state has had a lot of rain this year, said Angela Shambaugh, an aquatic biologist with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

Though the algae are billions of years old, they did not become a nuisance in many states until several years ago.

dking@dispatch.com @DanaeKing

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