September 3, 2011
Outdoors with Forda Birds — By John Andreoni
It just seems like yesterday that I announced the opening of the 2011 summer boating season. When I did, I was filled with concern. The lake disaster of 2010 was still on my mind and the minds of countless others. The concern wasn’t just local, it was statewide, even nationwide.
I was on the lake last Memorial Day, and water conditions looked excellent. It was the same at the start of 2010, although the water might have been clearer then. Regardless, I was gun-shy and waiting for the other shoe to drop. How long would it take for the lake to start smelling like a cesspool. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and Grand Lake St. Marys provided excellent conditions for the entire summer season, and, I assume, for the remainder of the year. If there was a negative in 2011, water recreationists were slow to realize that conditions had improved so dramatically. Consequently, the user numbers were still down, and that was to be expected. You can’t change an attitude over night.
However, the most inspiring impact I felt over the last year was the interaction of the entire community as they dealt with the problem. Of course, you had the loud mouths and the complainers. That goes with the turf. On the other hand, you had the government, action groups, and individuals pulling together to solve a problem that has been brewing for years. That’s unusual. Millions of dollars were spent, and if the current lake conditions are a reflection of that money, it was worth the cost.
However, the battle isn’t over; everyone knows that. The fight is on and won’t end until someone wins and someone loses. All I know is that a lot of people are learning a lot about the lake and its problems. I’m sure, they’re keeping score of what works and what doesn’t. Solid information like that will keep things moving forward and bring people back to enjoy the area.
I have my beliefs about current lake conditions and what is being done to affect change. By personal observation, I think the alum treatment played a significant role in the 2011 water quality. I think the removal of rough fish has little impact on the phosphorus content of the water. I also think the fish are safe to eat. Some people will agree and some won’t regarding any or all of these statements. Hopefully, down the road, you won’t have to take my word for it. However, if you think my information is credible, go for it. I try to make anything I say as valid as possible. On the other hand, if you realize I’m not a scientist, just a writer trying to get you to think, believe what you will. The bottom line is that what you believe will determine what you do, and what you do will control the outcome.
The point of this is that as we work to solve the lake problems, information we have to process will be more reliable. For example, I hop onto a computer website in real time and can see that the lake temperature on the northeast corner is 82 degrees and the southwest corner it’s 79 degrees. The oxygen content of the water is good on the entire main lake. The Ph is a little high, but that can change. As far as algae on the main lake? Well, there isn’t very much chlorophyll showing, but the majority of that is blue/green algae. Translated: Blue/green algae isn’t a problem on the lake at this time. I picked that information off of livelakedata.com. By the way, we are still under a lake advisory, and it is suggested that you don’t swim, wade in, or drink the water. The advisory goes up when the microcystin levels are above six parts per billion. The World Health Organization determined that 20 parts per billion was an issue. I’m not sure how either number was determined. Also, I wonder what effect these advisories will have on areas of Buckeye Lake and Maumee Bay since they are now under the same advisory as we are.
It’s all common sense. The fall season still provides some excellent water-related recreational opportunities, and as the temperature cools, conditions should be even better than they are now. My conclusion, for what it’s worth? If you’re not taking advantage of Ohio’s “other” Great Lake, it’s your loss. This is the final big holiday weekend for 2011. If you decide to give Lake St. Marys a shot, welcome. As always, be safe, stay sober, respect others, and have a good time. Those are my plans for the remainder of the year.