Steps to keep Asian carp out of Great Lakes

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - JOHN FLESHER

TRA­VERSE CITY, MICH. — A fed­eral re­port re­leased Mon­day pro­poses a $275-mil­lion US ar­ray of tech­no­log­i­cal and struc­tural up­grades at a cru­cial site in Illi­nois to pre­vent in­va­sive Asian carp from reach­ing the Great Lakes and its vul­ner­a­ble fish pop­u­la­tions.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers out­lined its ten­ta­tive plan in a re­port that had been sched­uled for re­lease in Fe­bru­ary but was de­layed by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, draw­ing crit­i­cism from mem­bers of Congress and en­vi­ron­men­tal groups.

It an­a­lyzes op­tions for up­grad­ing the Bran­don Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, a com­plex on the Des Plaines River south­west of Chicago that is con­sid­ered a bot­tle­neck where de­fences could be strength­ened to pre­vent carp pop­u­la­tions in the Mis­sis­sippi River wa­ter­shed from mi­grat­ing into Lake Michi­gan.

Sci­en­tists say if the large, vo­ra­cious carp be­come es­tab­lished in the Great Lakes, they could dev­as­tate the re­gion’s $7-bil­lion fish­ing in­dus­try by crowd­ing out na­tive species.

The army corps said the plan out­lined in the 488-page doc­u­ment is in­tended to block the path of in­va­sive species “while minimizing im­pacts to wa­ter­way uses and users.” Elected of­fi­cials and busi­ness lead­ers in Illi­nois and In­di­ana have said sig­nif­i­cant changes to the Bran­don Road com­plex could ham­per cargo ship­ment on the busy wa­ter­way.

Among tech­nolo­gies the re­port en­dorses is us­ing sound sys­tems to cre­ate “com­plex noise” un­der­wa­ter that would de­ter fish from the Bran­don Road area, plus in­stalling a new ap­proach chan­nel and plac­ing an elec­tric bar­rier at its down­stream end that would re­pel fish and stun them if they get too close. Bran­don Road is sev­eral kilo­me­tres down­stream from an ex­ist­ing bar­rier net­work.

Other mea­sures would in­clude in­stalling wa­ter jets to wash away “small and stunned fish” that might be caught up around barges, plus a new lock where float­ing in­va­sive species could be flushed away.

The re­port says the fed­eral gov­ern­ment would pay 65 per cent of the project’s costs, with the rest com­ing from a “non-fed­eral spon­sor.”


Asian carp, jolted by an elec­tric cur­rent from a re­search boat, jump from the Illi­nois River near Ha­vana, Ill., in June 2012.

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