Hearing On Plan To Keep Asian Carp From Great Lakes Brings Mixed Reviews

Debate Continues Over Plan For Brandon Road Lock And Dam In Illinois

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees
Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

A proposal to strengthen ways to keep Asian carp and other invasive species from moving between the Mississippi River system and the Great Lakes is drawing mixed responses.

At a hearing Monday in Chicago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took comments on a draft plan for additional controls at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois. Some call the area a “choke point” for keeping Asian carp out of Lake Michigan.

The carp are established in Illinois rivers west of the dam.

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The $275 million proposal includes a mix of underwater electric barriers and the use of sound and bubbles to repel the fish. Former Racine Mayor John Dickert, now with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, says the Corps plan is a good start.

“My mayors came to me on Friday and said, ‘Make it clear we’re already paying too much for invasive species. It’s impacting all of our cities, and this is going to be the checkmate,’” Dickert said.

Some environmental groups and citizens who testified argued the federal plan should be stronger.

But tugboat and barge owners in Chicago and port officials in northwest Indiana say they don’t want any new structures that would slow boat traffic. Among those concerned is tugboat company owner John Kindra.

“One of the issues is when the tentative selected plan is being built, we’re gonna have barge delays. As these barge delays are occurring, there’s going to be associated costs with that,” Kindra said, adding that if barge costs get high enough, there would be a shift to other types of transportation that could increase air pollution and highway congestion.

A decision by the Corps is expected next year. Any construction at Brandon Road would not be finished for eight years.

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