Asian carp were introduced to the South in the 1970s to filter pond water in fish farms. Flooding released the nonnative species into U.S. waterways, and now they are on the verge of reaching the Great Lakes.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is evaluating control technologies to fight aquatic nuisance species, like the Asian carp, from entering Lake Michigan through the Chicago Area Waterway System. Asian carp are an aggressive species that are fast-growing and outcompete native fish species for food and habitat.
The study is the next step in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study. The effort will look at establishing a single point of control at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Ill. Dave Wethington, GLMRIS project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said:
The Brandon Road control point was identified as the only single location that can address upstream transfer of Mississippi River species through all CAWS pathways. That makes it an ideal location to evaluate potential control technologies.
Many alternatives are available to prevent ANS transfer, but the quickest achievable method is implementation of one-way ANS controls at Brandon Road. The project at Brandon Road would minimize adverse affects on waterway uses and users, such as increased flooding potential and lower water quality.
The barrier wouldn’t be a permanent solution, but it would buy time for officials to come up with more long-term methods to keep Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. Long-term solutions would include biological, educational, and management controls, besides structural efforts like a two-way barrier.
A public comment period on the proposed Brandon Road effort will run through Jan. 17, 2015. Comments can be made at two public meetings in the Chicago region in December, through email via the GLMRIS website, or by conventional mail.