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Water quality going into Grand Lake St. Marys improving

Grand Lake St Marys (WKEF/WRGT)

GRAND LAKE ST. MARYS, Mercer County, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT)- Even on a bleak day, Grand Lake St. Marys still looks beautiful.

Stephen Jacquemin has been monitoring the water going into the lake for years.

"Yes, there's good news but we're not there yet. We're not even close," Jacquemin, who works for Wright State University’s Lake Campus said.

Grand Lake St. Marys, like many Ohio lakes has a problem with nutrients from fertilizers feeding algae blooms.

Jacquemin says the lake is on the right track. Thursday, he announced data from water quality studies being conducted.

He says the results were promising. Nitrogen and phosphorus levels were down across the board.

"I think they're better than we ever expected. I'm most pleased with the efforts the farmers have put in," Theresa Dirksen with Mercer County Agriculture Solutions said.

Dirksen works on the nutrient problem from the agriculture side.

The cause of the algae blooms in many of Ohio's lakes is fertilizer from nearby farms getting carried into the lake. That then feeds the algae.

Farmers have been using nutrient management plans to minimize the amount of fertilizer they use.

There's also a winter manure ban that goes into effect December 15th through March 1st.

Then there are the treatment trains, like one on Coldwater Creek.

"What these are, are constructed wetlands that serve to filter nutrients that wash off fields and into streams," Jacquemin said.

The water comes in and moves throughout the wetland area and leaves behind the nutrients before the water heads into the lake.

"I never thought we'd get where we are today but I think it's fantastic that we're here and as long as we keep moving forward and we keep being innovative, we're going to get there. It's just going to take maybe another 10, 15 or 20 years," Dirksen said.

Jacquemin says the issue didn't happen overnight and that the lake has been filling up with nutrients for the past century.

"I don't think it will take a hundred years to get out of where we are but there's not a time-frame," Jacquemin said.

Jacquemin says the methods being used at Grand Lake could be used at other lakes in Ohio, including Lake Erie to keep out nutrients to eventually get rid of the algae blooms.

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