ST MARYS, OH— Several key advisors from the office of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) attended a strategy meeting on efforts to combat toxic algae blooms at Grand Lake St Marys. Grand Lake St Marys has been affected by toxic blue-green algae that has left the lake unsafe for swimming, contributed to a decline in tourism, and reduced economic activity and local business in the area.
“A healthy Grand Lake St Marys is critical to Ohio’s prosperity—and achieving this goal requires a comprehensive approach. By working with local farmers, community leaders, and federal officials, we can take steps toward revitalizing Grand Lake St Marys and the recreation, tourism, and boating industries that it supports,” Brown said. “We know how important these conservation efforts are for improving the water quality at Grand Lake St. Marys—a major economic anchor of Mercer and Auglaize counties. I remain committed to pursuing all possible solutions to restore the lake.”
Last year, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided $1 million in federal funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) efforts in the Grand Lake St Marys watershed. EQIP offers technical assistance for farmers to plant cover crops, build manure storage facilities, install filter strips, and complete other conservation measures that keep phosphorus out of Grand Lake St Marys. Studies on Grand Lake St. Marys have shown that excess phosphorus loading of the lake has been the primary reason for toxic algae blooms during the past few summers.
Brown, the first senator from Ohio to serve on the Agriculture Committee in 40 years, has worked during the past three years to secure water quality conservation resources for Grand Lake St. Marys that encourage farmers to use best practices – including cover crops and buffer strips – that, in the long run, will improve health of the lake.