Efforts target loading

CELINA — Members of a local lake group received an update on a new campaign aimed at tackling external loading issues at Grand Lake St. Marys.

Grand Lake/Wabash Watershed Alliance Coordinator Laura Walker unveiled the Grand Again campaign that is being kicked off in the region during Saturday’s monthly Lake Improvement Association meeting. The campaign, which features a handful of topics, is directed at reducing the external loading — or non-point source pollution —  that reaches Grand Lake St. Marys.

“It’s about all of the things we can do as residents of the watershed or as stakeholders,” Walker said. “A stakeholder is anyone who recreates, who comes up or even just drives through the watershed or Grand Lake St. Marys.”

The campaign will feature billboards, social media contacts, postcards and a website to keep residents informed. Walker said a new topic will be rolled out approximately every two months.

“Our first topic for the Grand Again campaign is the lawn and gardens, specifically targeting lawn fertilizer,” Walker said. “We want you guys to test your soil, make sure you are not over-applying phosphorus. It’s very rare that you need to add phosphorus on your lawns .... The phosphorus recycles and as long as you are leaving your clippings on your lawn, you aren’t going to lose your phosphorus.”

The second topic is about storm drains, with an emphasis on only allowing storm water to enter collection systems. The third topic will cover systems in homes, specifically septic systems. The fourth topic will cover animal waste.

“I know you may think that’s not a big topic for us, but in some urban areas it’s a very hot topic,” Walker said. “The last one that will end up in December will be household wastes and pharmaceuticals.”

The campaign is sponsored by the Ohio Environmental Education Fund, which obtains money through Ohio EPA levied fines. Walker said the Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission applied for the grant, which is being administered by the Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration CIC holds the funding.

“As you get that postcard in the mail and you are tech savvy and you want to use the QR code on it, you can use that or just go to the website — it’s GrandAgain.org,” Walker said. “It will be up next week when the billboards are up.”

Once live, Walker encouraged residents to visit the website to complete a survey. The results will allow officials to determine how much people know about nonpoint source pollution.

Auglaize/Mercer Counties CVB Director Donna Grube also gave an update on the Get the Carp Outta Here fishing derby. The event, which will be held May 18-20, has been tweaked a bit from last year’s event.

“Folks who know their carp said we were a little bit late for the spawning season,” Grube said. “Last year the most fish caught was done by weight ..... This year the most carp, we are going to let them count it.”

Grube also touted results last year’s event.

Last year we felt it was a pretty big success for it being our first year,” Grube said, noting just shy of 300 people signed up. “Those folks took out over 8,000 pounds of carp in 48 hours.”

Grube said she is still looking for volunteers to help out during the event. For more information, visit SeeMore.org.