2011-01-29 / News

Grand Lake St. Marys distressed

COLUMBUS – Due to the unprecedented harmful algal blooms of 2009 and 2010, the Grand Lake St. Marys watershed has been designated a watershed in distress as of January 18, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

A recent analysis, conducted by ODNR’s Division of Soil and Water Resources, concluded that the Grand Lake St. Marys (GLSM) watershed met the criteria for designation as a watershed in distress, as defined in Ohio Administrative Code 1501:15-5-20.

The study looked at a number of issues, such as:

Is the watershed listed as impaired by nutrients from agricultural sources, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency?

Does the watershed exhibit conditions that can affect public health?

Is there a threat or presence of contaminants in a public drinking water source or recreational body of water?

Do unacceptable nuisance conditions exist including the depletion of dissolved oxygen resulting in impacts to aquatic life?

The analysis report was submitted to the seven- member Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission for review on January 18. The members unanimously voted to support the designation.

The new designation requires additional regulations for livestock operations and manure management within a distressed watershed. Specifically, all livestock operations and manure applicators handling greater than 350 tons and/or 100,000 gallons of manure per year must immediately begin following U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service standards for land application.

Nutrient management plans must be submitted to the Division of Soil and Water Resources; affected operations will be required to conform to the management plans by December 15, 2012. The rules also restrict winter application of manure beginning January 19, 2013.

The GLSM watershed encompasses 59,160 acres across Mercer and Auglaize counties in western Ohio. Not only is it a popular recreational lake, but Grand Lake St. Marys serves as a community drinking water source.

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