This is the second in a series. This is not meant to be a comprehensive overview, but is intended to give the reader some basic information on this important lake management subject.
Algal blooms obviously have an aesthetic concern – they just don’t look nice. But the recent news regarding the Toledo bloom brings up another issue – toxins (aka cyanotoxins). These toxins are not associated with common green algae but with cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Cyanobacteria blooms, as a result, are often called “Hazardous Algal Blooms” or HABs. The good thing is that not all cyanobacteria produce toxins. However, some species of cyanobacteria can produce more than one type of toxin. Obviously, this issue is complex. In spite of all of this attention, the US EPA has not yet set advisory thresholds above which exposure to these toxins should be avoided. The advisory thresholds that you see in the news and elsewhere are either the early World Health Organization (WHO) values, or those set down by the OhioEPA. Most, but not all states have cyanobacteria or cyanotoxin thresholds for exposure, and they differ from state to state. The thresholds for recreational exposure (like for our lake) are typically less severe than those for drinking water (like the Toledo issue).
Exposure to toxins can result in everything from a mild rash to a more serious condition depending on the toxin concentration and exposure. Since it is not possible to tell visually if a bloom is due to cyanobacteria, or if the cyanobacteria have released any toxins, it is best to avoid contact with an active bloom. The tag line on the OhioEPA site is “When in doubt, stay out”.
The only way to determine if toxins exist is to test. Reliable test results require careful sampling and analysis in a qualified lab, both of which are expensive. On the RRA web site, the toxin level results from our two beaches are published. The values for our lake continue to be below recreational advisory thresholds. If the level were to exceed these recommendations, signs will be posted at the two beaches to warn of the advisory. With hard work, good lake management, and the help from our neighbors, we hope to never have to use those signs.
The OhioEPA website (one of the sources of the information in this article) has a lot more information on this topic.
BE LAKE RESPONSIBLE
by David Ernes – Lake Management Committee
Late last year, in response to the Toledo algal bloom that affected their drinking water, the Ohio House passed legislation known as HB 490. This bill included, among other sections, efforts intended to reduce the nutrients entering the watershed and ultimately Lake Erie by a reducing or eliminating the practice of manure application onto frozen or rain saturated ground. Unfortunately, the bill failed to pass the Senate. The failure was a result of the other provisions of the bill which were added that had nothing to do with Lake Erie water quality. Due to the rules of congress, this legislation was purged, and will have to be redrafted with the new state legislature in place this year (2015).
One of the important aspects of this legislation was that, although originally rejected by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF), sections of it, including the manure provision, had gained support. This indicates a willingness on the part of the farmers to work with the state to solve this issue. This, in the author’s opinion, is a very good sign for compromise. However, one aspect of the bill that will be of concern for RRA members is that the original bill focused only on the Western Lake Erie Basin. It is therefore important to try to have the legislature consider the entire Lake Erie Basin within the state of Ohio. The Grand River into which Rock Creek flows, eventually ends up in Lake Erie. So it is in our benefit to make them aware of this. The LMC is beginning to look into this and, if possible, we will provide our RRA members some guidance in how to get our opinions heard as the new congress takes up this important subject. If we make our voices heard, we may be able to have an impact in the early stages of the new legislation. Stay tuned for a future article and spot it by our “Love the Lake” logo.
If you want to see more of what the OFBF had to say, you can check out their web site at www.ofbf.org.
BE LAKE RESPONSIBLE
This is the first in a series or articles to provide some background information surrounding Algal Blooms. This is not meant to be a comprehensive overview, but is intended to give the reader some basic information on this important lake management subject.
Algae are a very broad series of organisms, which use light for most of their food, like any other plant. One class, green algae, is a significant food source for the marine food chain and is very beneficial to any lake. Algal blooms, however, are more often associated with organisms known as “blue-green algae”. Surprisingly, they are not really algae, but instead are actually bacteria that also use light for their energy. One of the terms you may have seen is cyanobacteria, where the cyano refers to “cyan” or the color blue. Cyanobacteria can be the typical blue-green color, as well as reddish purple (called “red tide”), or even brown.
So, where did cyanobacteria come from? They are actually one of the oldest living organisms. They have been around for 3.5 billion years, and are often credited with changing the earth’s atmosphere to the oxygen mixture that supports life. In fact, in a recent article, some German scientists have suggested that cyanobacteria could be used for the same purpose on Mars! Cyanobacteria are found everywhere, even in the Antarctic.
So, if they have been around for so long, why are they such a problem today? Basically, people are the cause. In addition to light, the other main food source for cyanobacteria is nutrients in the water, primarily phosphorous and nitrogen. Man’s activities from certain farming practices, the reduction in natural filtration in forests by building structures and roads, and poor handling of sewage treatment effluents have dramatically increased the level of nutrients in bodies of water. So, with a greater food supply, they tend to multiply, forming blooms. This is one of the main reasons that the Lake Management Committee (LMC) has been encouraging best practices which can reduce the inflow of nutrients into our lake. Less food; fewer blooms.
If you have specific questions about this article, or suggestions for future articles, please contact a member of the LMC.
BE LAKE RESPONSIBLE
As the lake is now lowered, the Rome Rock Association (RRA) Lake Management Committee would like to remind our residents that it’s a great time to inspect our properties. Detecting areas at high risk for erosion and taking action protects our lake and our community. Please look for overflow points or holes in erosion control structures and seek remedies to reinforce them. This could be your sea wall, “rip-rap” (rock), and/or vegetation. Reinforcement of shoreline barriers, confirming clear drainage channels, and checking dock supports and surrounding areas safeguards us all.
If you suspect you may have a problem or have identified a problem, contact the Village office or the RRA to inquire about necessary permits and any approved vendors. There are contractors to assist and some do it yourself techniques. With proper attention, erosion of our shoreline can be controlled. Be Lake Responsible. Love our Lake.
by R.D. Gainar, CEBS – Lake Management Committee Chairman
Approximately 20 residents meet with both the RomeRock Association Board and the Roaming Shores Village Council for a joint meeting on November 11 at the Village Hall to hear a very informative presentation by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy (“WRLC”). Mrssers. Brett Rodstrom and Alex Czayka presented and overview of the WRLC’s operations in northeast Ohio. This non-profit organization receives no public funding and works to protect natural resources in our corner of the State by purchase of rights-of-way or outright land acquisition funded by grants and donations of property or funds. These properties are “preserved” or controlled to ensure natural or current uses and will restrict the properties from further residential or business development.
The presenters described their Grand Valley Ranch Project that now has control of lands surrounding Synder’s Ditch, better known to us as Rock Creek. This south end of Rock Creek was a meandering creek in the early 1900’s before a 3-mile ditch was dug north of Route 87 to Route 322 to drain the area for rich farmland. The straight ditch allows easy, swift passage of sediment and nutrients from the drainage-tiled farmlands north to Lake Roaming Rock. The WRLC intends to raise funding to put the meandering turns and leach fields back into the creek to limit the amount of sediment and nutrients from flowing into Rock Creek, our lake, Grand River and, finally, Lake Erie.
While land acquisition for the Grand Valley Ranch Project is complete, the operations portion of the project has only just begun. However, residents of Roaming Shores will eventually benefit from this worthwhile Western Reserve Land Conservancy project.
Recently, a number of interesting political announcements have appeared in the news about blooms and grants awarded to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative totaling over 8.4 million dollars to three states, including Ohio. These grants are to be used to study ways to reduce the nutrients going into the lakes, increase monitoring of blooms, and create a database for research and information to find corrective actions to eliminate the public health crisis. Senator Rob Portman has been a strong advocate for this research applauding the success of the grant.
In a few weeks, most of you will be going to the polls and depending on if you are a permanent resident, weekender, or lot owner, the list of candidates may differ. The recent bloom that shut down the water supply for Toledo for several days continues to make national headlines. Our sub-committee has published an abundance of good science based information regarding blooms so that we can all make informed decisions. The link below is to a recent article in the Plain Dealer that offers the views of a number of candidates on lake water quality, blooms, fertilizer, etc. They comment on farming practices, fertilizer selections, and even testing. When you cast your ballot, we ask that you check the candidate’s opinions on these issues, to ensure that grant money goes to good use.
And if they don’t do what they say – write them a letter!
BE LAKE RESPONSIBLE – VOTE
You may have noticed the new “Love the Lake” logo that marks the articles and programs being developed by residents volunteering for the Sediment and Nutrient Control Subcommittee of the Lake Management Committee. You can see it included in this article. Our mission is to connect our community by 1) raising awareness about important issues, 2) offering good science based information, and 3) offering some easy ways to improve our community.
It is our hope that this logo reminds residents to BE LAKE RESPONSIBLE!
When weeds and algae in the lake become overgrown, we all look for help to find solutions. Our lake is not a public and natural resource of the State of Ohio, so it is up to us, the owners and residents of Roaming Shores to be responsible. We are the primary stewards of our great natural resource, Lake Roaming Rock. Please help us work together to protect our water for our enjoyment and that of future generations.
Given our private ownership and access to Lake Roaming Rock, our goal is to initiate programs to help residents actively manage their properties and proactively seek new and innovative solutions. Once we, the residents and owners, do all that we can to sustain these programs, outside funding, like government grants, can be more readily obtained to help us limit sediment and nutrients from our watershed.
When you see “Love the Lake” articles and programs, please participate. It is our hope that if we all contribute to the health of Lake Roaming Rock, our community will thrive. Please contact me (TimattheShores@gmail.com) if you would like to get involved, contribute or suggest an article, help with a program or have any questions. It is important that we all be responsible to help keep our lake and community beautiful.
I love our lake and I bet you do too.
It is that time of year when we are all trying to get our boats cleaned and ready for winter. It seems like a rite of passage for winter to arrive, but a time to get our boats ready for storage. Did you know, soaps and detergents might add nutrients that promote algae blooms? They also destroy the external mucus layers that protect the fish from bacteria and parasites; plus they can cause severe damage to the gills. So, before you grab your old standby cleaner please consider the following;
- Rinse your boat frequently with fresh water to reduce the need for soaps and cleansers, help stop marine growth, and extend the life of the protective coating. Spot clean if needed.
- Use environmentally friendly cleaning products such as baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and borax when necessary. Use all cleaning products sparingly to minimize the amount discharged into the water.
- Use good old-fashion elbow grease.
- Use phosphate-free, biodegradable cleaners such as “Simple Green”. If you use detergents, use them sparingly.
- Avoid cleaning your boat dockside or in your driveway if you have a grate drain which goes to the lake. Wash your boat in an area that allows for infiltration of wash water, such as gravel or grass without a drain directly to the lake.
- Look for the words “phosphate-free and “biodegradable” on the cleaning products used.
- Never dispose of cleaning products by dumping near the lake.
With each of us taking a moment to consider our cleaning methods and products used, we each can BE LAKE RESPONSIBLE.
For more information or to print out a purchasing guide that contains what to look for on labels, toxic ingredients to avoid and how to clean with less please see the following link,
With our crew becoming more acclimated to the new dredging equipment in Plum Creek, plans are moving forward to begin digging in Fisherman’s cove. This cove was determined to have the most sedimentation, according to a study by Enviroscience. In order to remove spoils from this problem area efficiently, our crew put in a 350ft access road, the process only took a couple of days.
by R.D. Gainar, CEBS – Lake Management Committee Chairman
The Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority (LEEP) International Joint Commission recently published their summary report of key findings and recommendations. This US and Canadian commission’s function is to understand the sources of excess nutrients and the measures required in order to reduce them. The report can be found on our website (www.roamingshores.org) and is yet another important work provided in follow-up to the 2011 algal bloom, the largest in the history of Lake Erie. Like the Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force Final Report, Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force II, Strategic Plan for the Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission, and several others (also on our website), this report is critical of the primary problem: flow of sediment and nutrients into our rivers and streams from the watershed and the current efforts to contain them in the fields.
The Commission writes: “Although eutrophication [a process akin to aging due to excessive nutrient enrichment] is again a serious threat to Lake Erie water quality, the sources and remedies are different from those of the 1960s and 1970s. While sewage plants still contribute some phosphorous to Lake Erie, diffuse runoff from rural and urban lands is a leading factor in eutrophication. Of particular concern is runoff of dissolved reactive phosphorous (DRP), which is highly bioavailable and thus a primary cause of renewed algae blooms. Addressing runoff requires strategies tailored to particular land uses, rather than controls on sewage plants alone.“
Among the Commission’s recommendations was that existing and planned incentive-based programs immediately shift to a preference for agricultural Best Management Practices that are most likely to reduce DRP by reducing the amount of phosphorous applied to fields, slowing the movement of water to the field drainage system, and detaining flows at field drainage outlets.
I encourage residents interested in understanding the facts of our water quality and clarity issues to read at least the executive summary of the LEEP Report. And remember, residents at Roaming Shores are a powerful political force especially when we voice reasonable requests to elected representatives. If you are interested in taking action to reduce HABs in our lake, please consider writing and calling your elected state representatives including Gov. Kasich and let them know that you support strong action to ensure that nutrients and sediment are controlled and limited so they do not enter our waterways.