Has anyone seen this?? Ohio's Largest Inland Lake Struggles Against Manure Runoff POSTED: 10:29 pm EDT June 16, 2007 CELINA, Ohio -- Grand Lake St. Marys -- Ohio's largest inland lake -- is struggling against manure runoff, erosion and sediment buildup despite an investment of $17 million in state money over the last two decades, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources says. The state of the lake is unacceptable, ODNR Director Sean Logan told a crowd of about 100 people on Friday at Wright State University's branch campus in this western Ohio city. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency last week released a draft report outlining what it called the lake's most pressing needs: better handling of livestock manure, improving control of erosion and sediment buildup and eliminating bacteria produced by manure and home sewage treatment systems. Environmental officials hope to have a comprehensive nutrient management system for most livestock farmers in the area within five years, said Theresa Dirksen, coordinator for the Grand Lake/Wabash Watershed Alliance. Now, just 10 percent to 20 percent of those farms have such plans. The watershed group also hopes to replace 25 failing septic systems and reduce overapplication of fertilizer on 300 lawns during that period. Mercer County took in $347 million in agricultural sales -- most in the state -- in 2004, mainly because of livestock farms in the 171-square-mile watershed. However, tourism is taking hold, with hotel guests alone spending an estimated $51 million in 2006 -- a record, said Donna Grube of the Auglaize and Mercer Counties Convention and Visitors Bureau. Growth in the tourism area is tied to the lake's health, but farmland is going for as much as $8,000 an acre in the watershed, making many farmers unwilling to take any land along waterways out of production for conservation. Celina, a city of about 10,000, gets its drinking water from the lake. The city is developing a carbon treatment process so the water is fit to drink. Beaches at the lake are safe for swimming but have been closed twice for high E. coli counts in the past four years, said Craig Morton, manager of Grand Lake St. Marys State Park. Flooding in July 2003 and testing problems last year caused those closings. The EPA is taking public comment on the report through July 16.