Army Corps Presents Options For Keeping Invasives Out Of Great Lakes
By Chuck Quirmbach
Monday, January 6, 2014, 8:43pm
A new federal report lists eight options for keeping Asian Carp and other aquatic nuisance species from traveling between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems.
Congress asked the Army Corps Of Engineers to prepare the inter-basin study as fishing groups, environmentalists and others worry, especially about hungry Asian Carp being able to get to the Great Lakes in big numbers. The groups generally don't think existing controls, like an electric carp barrier near Chicago, are enough.
The federal reports lists eight options, ranging from doing nothing to complete physical separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi waterways.
However, Dave Wethington, of the Corps of Engineers, spent a lot of time on a teleconference talking about one option: a new flushing lock system, next to electric barriers, to try to make sure watercraft don't drag through aquatic invaders.
“The vessel will enter this lock, and the sector gates will close behind it,” Wethington said. “Then a pump removes the water from one end and on the opposite end, fills the lock with water: clean water.”
Wethington says it would cost at least $1 billion to add the lock. Some of the other species control options could cost much more than that. The report now goes to Congress.
Wethington says if any of the larger options are chosen, it could take 25 years to complete related reservoirs and tunnels in the Chicago waterway system.
“We cannot imagine building a structure in the river that would add additional flood risk for the millions of residents of the Chicagoland area,” Wethington said, “nor would we want to build something that would significantly contaminate the waters of Lake Michigan.”
The Corps of Engineers will hold a public meeting on its report on January 13th, in Milwaukee.