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Report Aims to Block Asian Carp From Great Lakes

Report Aims to Block Asian Carp From Great Lakes

The plan, which will be open for public comment through September 21, calls for adding a new electric barrier to those that exist downriver, along with underwater noise and a "flushing" lock that uses water jets to repel small or stunned fish.

Building the barriers would cost more than $275 million, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers paying $179 million and seeking non-federal money for the rest.

Michigan's Great Lakes waters continue to be invasive carp free, as evidenced by continual eDNA sampling that occurs on the state's major river systems.

The Army Corps should, of course, pay close attention to suggestions from people who pore through the 488-page report and have ideas about how to make the barrier better and more cost-effective. The Army Corps' recommended plan would add water jets and complex noises - like the underwater recordings of a boat motor.

The Army Corps of Engineers will release a study on Monday that explores the feasibility of options to prevent invasive species like Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, a development that was cheered by House Republicans from the Midwest.

Invasive Asian carp have moved up the Mississippi River watershed to the point where they are threatening to colonize the Great Lakes and drive out native fish.

The American Waterways Operators, a trade association that submitted comments to the Army Corps in 2015 for a previous study, has said a new electronic barrier would be "unacceptable", raising safety concerns.

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The Corps meant to release the draft report in February, but 16 members of Congress concerned about the shipping industry, including Republicans Peter Roskam and Randy Hultgren of IL, got the Corps to pull the report back indefinitely.

A bipartisan group of Congressmen and Senators recently introduced the Stop Asian Carp Now Act in Congress.

Brandon Road is considered a bottleneck where new structures or technologies could strengthen defenses against Asian carp.

Environmentalists, legislators and others are concerned that if the voracious species of fish reach Lake Michigan and establish themselves in the Great Lakes, they will destroy habitat for local fish.

In Monday's report, the Army Corps said it would initially operate the electric barrier only when vessels are not immediately downstream of the engineered channel and not when they're in the engineered channel or proceeding through the lock. It was preceded by earlier reports in 2014 and 2015 as part of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study.

With the report made public, the Corps will take comments for 45 days - go to http://glmris.anl.gov/brandon-rd/draft-comments/ to make a comment online - and schedule public meetings to discuss it before finalizing its decision.