2011-07-02 / News

Buckeye Lake is safe for recreation

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE – Buckeye Lake’s water is safe for recreation and is not comparable to the water quality at Grand Lake St. Marys, Merv Bartholow, president of Buckeye Lake for Tomorrow, or BLT, told the Buckeye Lake Village Council Monday night.

He said lake area business people are worried that bluegreen algae advisories posted at Buckeye Lake beaches are hurting tourism, as people may believe the postings mean that Buckeye Lake is unsafe in the same manner that Grand Lake St. Marys, in Western Ohio near Lima, was so choked with blue-green algae it was unsafe to enter the water.

“Do we have a Grand Lake St. Marys in our backyard,” said Bartholow. “We do not. What we have isn’t even close to that. It’s a completely different world.”

Bartholow said BLT, a partnership of individuals and organizations dedicated to improving water quality in the Buckeye Lake Watershed, developed some talking points to help local business owners better understand the situation. He said state agencies posted a yellow advisory at Buckeye Lake. “This is the least serious of four that are issued in connection with Ohio’s inland lakes,” said Bartholow. He said a yellow advisory is issued when an algal bloom capable of producing toxin is identified. Swimming and wading are not recommended and water should not be swallowed. However, all other forms of recreation at Buckeye Lake are permitted, including boating, fishing, skiing, and tubing. Bartholow said that as a precautionary measure, the Ohio Department of Health placed signs at Buckeye Lake’s beaches to alert swimmers that they shouldn’t drink the lake water or swim and play in any scum that may be floating on the water.

“No high toxin readings have developed as a result of sightings of small amounts of algae on the water in Buckeye Lake,” said Bartholow. In fact, he said, all microcystin toxin levels, as analyzed from State of Ohio water samples, are well within the “safe for recreation use” guidelines established by the World Health Organization as well as Ohio Department of Health guidelines. He said the World Health Organization’s toxin level guidelines are one part per billion, or ppb, for drinking water and 20 ppb for recreation use.

An Ohio EPA, ODNR and Ohio Department of Health focus group established six ppb as the safe threshold for recreation use in Ohio lakes this past winter. Ohio EPA has tested 18 samples for microcystin toxins from May 25 through June 20. The highest result was 3.7 ppb – a mid-lake sample taken May 25 and the lowest was .2 ppb – a Crystal Beach sample taken June 20. The 18 samples averaged 1.5 ppb, 75 percent below the new, much more conservative threshold of 6 ppb for recreational use.

In contrast, Grand Lake St. Marys has been sampled 36 times for microcystin toxins from May 4 through June 21. The highest result was 23.7 ppb from the Celina water treatment plant intake on June 8. The lowest at 1.9 ppb was a western mid-lake sample taken May 4. The average of the 36 samples from Grand Lake St. Marys was 13.3 ppb, slightly more than double the new 6 ppb safe threshold for recreation use.

Both lakes are being sampled at least weekly for microcystin toxin levels. The results are available at www.ohioalgaeinfo.com

BLT samples Buckeye Lake monthly to determine changes in phosphorus and nitrogen levels. “These chemicals are a precursor to conditions that promote addi- tional algae growth,” Bartholow said. Comparative water tests water tests for phosphorus and nitrogen levels on August 3, 2010 and June 3, 2011 show the water quality has improved during the last year.

Bartholow said Buckeye Lake is particularly nutrient rich, mainly due to past practices of dumping raw sewage into the water. Much of that took place on the south shore of the lake, but Thornville now processes sewage for that area and the water flowing into the lake from the Thornville wastewater treatment plant is extremely clean. He said dredging the lake helps keep nutrient levels under control and it’s important to reduce the lake’s carp population. Carp stir up nutrients from the lake bed, making them available to feed algae growth. and block sunlight. Bartholow said a carpfishing tournament is scheduled for July 15-17 to help thin the population.

Mayor Rick Baker asked if shocking the fish to bring them to the surface would kill more carp than fishing for them.

“Shocking doesn’t kill them,” said Bartholow. He said carp are smart fish and tough to catch. Bow fishing is a preferred method. All legal fishing methods in Ohio, including hook & line, long bows, cross bows, spears, gigs and hand grabbing, will be permitted during the tournament. More than $3,500 in cash prizes will be awarded to carp fishermen during the tournament.

In other council news:

• Council members are a step closer to choosing an engineering firm to design and manage construction of a $503,000 storm water drainage project. The project will be funded with an Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) grant of $358,827, an OPWC no-interest loan of $119,609 and $25,181 in village funds. The deadline for submitting requests for quotes, or RFQs, was June 15. Current engineer M•E Companies, ADR & Associates,

GGC Engineering, Korda/ Nemeth Engineering, Inc., Jobes Henderson & Associates, Inc., and Diversified Engineering all submitted RFQs.

Council members Kaye Hartman, Clay Carroll, and Hilde Hildebrandt, all of whom serve on the service committee, each gave their top three recommendations after reviewing all the RFQs. Carroll recommended Jobes Henderson & Associates, Inc., M•E Companies, and Korda/Nemeth Engineering, Inc. Hildebrandt recommended M•E Companies, Jobes Henderson & Associates, Inc., and Korda/Nemeth Engineering, Inc. Hartman recommended Jobes Henderson & Associates, Inc., Korda/Nemeth Engineering, Inc., and ADR & Associates. The village will interview prospective firms July 7.

• Marianne Perine, chair of the Buckeye Lake Parks and Recreation Commission, told council that Seymour Street’s asphalt is crumbling. “I see it as a hazard,” she said. “After a year, it doesn’t seem like it should be falling apart.” Buckeye Lake Village streets were repaved last summer following the installation of a village-wide public water distribution system.

Street Supervisor Mark Dymek said the village could try to do some asphalt sealing. He wondered how much Chemcote, the paving contractor, could help.

“ Chemcote did what they were asked to do and then some,” said council President Charlene Hayden.

Service Director Tim Matheny said areas of the newly paved streets are deteriorating because there was no good base beneath the asphalt. “It wasn’t (Chemcote’s) fault. We told them to do it.”

“This village has never had berms,” said Dymek. “That asphalt has to crumble.” He said residents were asking the village and Chemcote to pave some spots that had no asphalt base beneath them.

Baker said he met with Chemcote representatives who said the company would return to Buckeye Lake to repair some crumbling asphalt “within a couple weeks.”

Resident Charlotte Basnet asked council if it’s time for a street levy. “Make the roads the way they’re supposed to be,” she said. Basnet said the condition of village streets is the “main topic of conversation” in the village. “I think we need to have the people pay for these improvements,” she said.

Council member Donna Thompson disagreed. “I try to watch for the taxpayers,” she said. “It should’ve all been done like it should’ve been.”

• Resident George Braden told council he raised enough donations to buy the village 32 American Flags for display. “I think 32 will be enough,” he said.

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