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Stakeholders Look To Lock In Funding To Complete Asian Carp-Related Study

Environmentalists, Business Groups Call For Completing Analysis

Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

Money to complete a study of a potential project related to Asian carp and the Great Lakes may be approved in Washington, D.C. soon, says Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat who advocated for the funds.

The money is part of a spending bill for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps is looking at potential changes to the Brandon Road Lock and Dam at Joliet, Illinois, southwest of Chicago. Environmental groups say additional protections are needed there to help keep Asian carp from moving out of Illinois rivers and into the Great Lakes.

Molly Flanagan of the Alliance for the Great Lakes says the money would help finish the federal study, “and to make sure the most effective protections are included so that we can get those additional protections in place.”

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The American Waterways Operators, a group representing tugboat and barge owners that use the lock system along the Des Plaines River, says it also wants the study to be wrapped up. AWO spokeswoman Lynn Muench said a closer look is needed at whether the perceived threat to the Great Lakes is real.

“There still has not been a risk analysis as to what is the risk of Asian carp actually moving past Brandon Road and moving past the three electric barriers that are in place,” Muench said. Those barriers are 10 miles northeast, near Romeoville, Illinois.

Muench also said the study should consider whether changing the lock and dam could lead to more invasive species moving from Lake Michigan to Illinois rivers.

Some members of Congress are calling for the remaining study to be completed by next spring.