Save the Lake Coalition

The Save the Lake Coalition consists of volunteers dedicated to improving the quality of water at Chippewa Lake and the entire Upper Chippewa Lake Watershed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Save the Lake Coalition?

The Save the Lake Coalition, a citizen-led group of local volunteers, is partnering with Medina County Park District (MCPD) to develop a harmful algae bloom (HAB) mitigation plan.

Why should we support the Save the Lake Coalition?

Every resident living in the Medina County watershed has a stake in the pollution found in all of our lakes and streams. The expected out-of-pocket cost for this initial project will be between $35,000 and $50,000. MCPD has committed to spend $25,000 on this initiative. The coalition has begun fundraising to generate the additional $10,000 to $25,000 that MCPD will need.

Why is there a drastic jump in algae pollution numbers from one week to the next?

Bacteria die based on weather and water flow, causing a release of toxins. Once released, the water flow may move the toxin slowly or quickly out of the lake.

Why does it take two consecutive water tests to remove a health advisory but only water test to post one?

The park district follows Ohio EPA guidelines established for state parks. These guidelines state the advisory may be removed after two consecutive samples taken at least one week apart indicate cyanotoxin concentrations are below threshold levels.

What do the colored flags mean?

The flag system at the public boat launch alerts boaters and swimmers of water conditions on Chippewa Lake. Color keys are posted at the boat ramp, public beaches and private boat launch areas.

Green < 6ppb Lake open to all swimmers and boaters
Orange 6-20ppb Warning: algal toxins present
Swimming not recommended for the elderly, children under six years of age and pets
Yellow > 20ppb Boating permitted at idle speed only
Swimming prohibited
Red > 20ppb Danger: avoid contact with the water
Boating at your own risk
Black Flooded Lake closed
All boating and swimming prohibited

Why are boats restricted to "no wake" speeds, when the cyanobacteria levels exceed 20ppb?

The bacteria can be ingested not only by swallowing water but also by breathing water spray from nearby jet skis or high-speed watercraft. Airborne spray is just as dangerous as drinking the water.

What is Medina County Park District doing to remedy the algae problem?

MCPD has initiated a major study with AquaDoc by committing $25,000 to determine what is causing the lake’s pollution and how to best remediate the problem. Also, MCPD partnered with a Cleveland-based startup company to install bio-reactors in October 2018. The district's investment in this groundbreaking remediation technique was also $25,000.

How does the sewer and water department handle algae?

The pollution in Chippewa Lake must be addressed by MCPD, not the sewer and water department, which purifies sewer water through its water filtration facility.

How is the Chippewa Lake Village Council involved in improving lake quality?

The council’s responsibility ends at the beach. Medina County Park District is the owner of the lake and is responsible for monitoring and improving the water quality.

How can I be a good neighbor to the lake?

All residents of Chippewa Lake and Gloria Glens are encouraged to be mindful of the lawn-care products we use. We highly discourage the use of pre-emergent and glyphosphate-based weed killers and chemical fertilizers. Most importantly, do not dispose of any pollutants in the storm drains and sewers. Visit our resources page for other tips.

Why should we avoid toxins created by harmful algae blooms (HAB)? What are the potential consequences to people and pets?

  • Drinking or swallowing HAB contaminated water
    • Diarrhea and vomiting
    • Liver or kidney toxicity
    • Neurotoxicity
    • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin contact with HAB contaminated water
    • Rashes
    • Hives
    • Skin blisters
  • Inhaling HAB contaminated water
    • Runny nose and eyes
    • Sore throat
    • Asthma-like symptoms
    • Allergic reactions

What actions should be taken if any of the above symptoms are experienced?

Call your physician and explain you have ingested lake water known to contain cyanobacteria. The cyanobacteria in Chippewa Lake is a hepatotoxin (liver toxin). Consult the Ohio Department of Health HAB Physician Reference for more information.

If you have bruises or breaks in skin, what are the effects of HAB? What should you do?

An open cut is more likely to become infected by bacteria, so it is recommended to wait until the wound is closed before exposure to water.

Should I keep my pet out of the lake?

When toxin levels are higher than six ppb, it is best that pets do not go into the water as they are more likely to drink the water. They are also more susceptible to the hepatotoxin than humans. As with humans, it’s best to wash pets down with fresh water to remove as much of the potential bacteria as possible when they do come in contact with the water.

Are fish caught in the lake safe to eat?

Most sources say the fish are safe to eat if all the innards are removed, and the fish is skinned and properly cleaned per standard fishing guidelines.

What are the external signs of microcystin when wading?

There is no way to identify microcystin by looking at the water. Blue-green algae, also known as harmful algae blooms (HAB), is actually bacteria invisible to the eye. Not all algae has cyanobacteria or the microcystin toxin.

Why can’t the problem be fixed faster?

This is a worldwide problem that has escalated in recent years. Many private and public organizations have been researching and testing mitigation solutions. There is no known “silver bullet.”

In Ohio, studies are being done on Lake Erie, Sandusky Bay, Grand Lake St. Marys, and other state-owned waterways. We hope to benefit from their work.

Medina County Park District — owner of Chippewa Lake — has contracted for a study to identify potential areas where we can best focus our efforts for remediation. The study results, which will be available in late 2018, will lead us to potential solutions. It will be a long-term effort.

Where can I learn more about harmful algae blooms, and what I can do to help prevent future pollution?

Learn more about algae pollution on our resources page.

Does the Save the Lake Coalition take donations?

Yes. Donations can be sent to the Save the Lake Coalition c/o Friends of Medina County Parks. You can also donate via our Give Lively page. Information can be found on our donations page.