GLSM Looking Good, West Beach Could Open This Year

Managing Editor

The lake is in good shape and the goal is still to have people swim at West Beach, said Lake Improvement Association (LIA) President Nick Rentz as he told St. Marys Rotarians on Wednesday.

“We have some really good numbers coming off of Grand Lake in terms of the toxins,” he said. “These are some of the lowest numbers that we have seen since the algal bloom and 2010 in the comparison time frame. So we’ve been seeing the sort of a precipitous drop in the microsystem levels over the past couple years especially, but this year’s even lower.”

Rentz gave a shoutout to the farmers for their effort in limiting phosphorus runoff. 

The wetlands that are up and active right now are extremely healthy and the association is seeing up to a 75% reduction in nutrients out of the wetlands.

“They are massively helpful in water quality,” Rentz added. “So out of the gates, we’ve got a very good looking lake right now.”

The good-looking lake had an impact this weekend when traffic increased for one of the busiest days in the area during the Memorial Day weekend. LIA member and Rotarian Jeff Vossler added that it was the most traffic he had seen at the lake in quite some time.

“People do respond to the water quality, sort of subconsciously,” Rentz said. “A lot of people don’t get the same data that we do but as that water quality improves we see people coming back. The lake is a very, very safe place for social distancing. You can keep a lot of feet between you on a 22 foot boat.”

The West Beach project is moving ahead. The numbers inside the beach area have fluctuate but Rentz said the waters are going to be treated with alum  or aluminum sulfate, and time will tell what the results will be. The hope, though, is to get people swimming a little bit quicker. 

That treatment is set here for some time in the next two weeks. He also added the hope is to have a kayak kiosk, boat docks and sand volleyball courts. The state has released funds for these projects. 

“West Beach is progressing well and we hope to get people in there and swimming this year,” said Rentz.

At this point, the association needs more data on the beach area. Rentz noted that when the area sees heavy rain, it produces one set of toxin numbers while another set of numbers are produced when there is no rain for a period of time. 

“We got the aeration in and we don’t have a very long-term data set to be able to battle it,” he added. “We want to get people in there, we want to get people using it and swimming so we want to do that quickly.”

That’s where the alum comes in. Rentz said putting it into the area is not harmful to fish or people and will allow the association to closely monitor the beach’s numbers. 

“But this season, we hope to have people swimming in West Beach. That is still the goal,” Rentz said.