Army Corps Must Act Quickly at Asian Carp Choke Point

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LANSING, MI – Attorney General Bill Schuette today continued his fight against Asian carp by submitting formal comments on the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, to prevent the upstream movement of Asian carp and other harmful invasive species into the Chicago Area Waterway and the Great Lakes.  Chock Point

This was in response to the Corps’ request for comments on this extension of its Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS).

The Great Lakes Commission currently recommends “designing, engineering and constructing modifications to the Brandon Road lock and dam structure including electric barriers at the entrance and exit of the lock, use of fish deterrents, modifications to the gates on the dam, and other technologies.”

“We must do everything we can to protect the Great Lakes, and that begins with safeguarding our ecological and economic resources from invasive species like Asian carp,” said Schuette. “Michigan simply cannot afford to wait on a federal government that fails to act.  We need to permanently separate these two bodies of water as soon as possible and until that is done, take other actions to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.  The time for talk is over. We need action.”

Schuette supports taking swift action at the Brandon Road site, noting it is a logical “choke point” for reducing the risk that Asian carp can move upstream to the Waterway. As the Corps itself has noted, the Brandon Road site has several advantages, and that “[o]peration of the lock at this location currently provides the only known aquatic pathway that allows transfer of the Mississippi River ANS [aquatic nuisance species] to the Great Lakes through the CAWS [Chicago Area Waterway System].”

Schuette also noted that his April 2014 comments on the Corps’ GLMRIS Report urged the Corps to move forward immediately with actions like those recommended by the Great Lakes Commission, which included interim measures at Brandon Road.

            Schuette’s formal comments emphasized the following:

  • Constructing additional measures in Joliet, Illinois are only interim steps. They may serve as a “bridge” in time to reduce risks until an effective permanent remedy—hydrologic separation—is implemented, but they are not a substitute for it.
  • Time is of the essence. The Corps’ existing electrical barrier system cannot be relied upon to prevent the movement of Asian carp through the Chicago Waterway into Lake Michigan. With each day that this situation continues, the risk that enough Asian carp will enter the Lake to trigger the establishment of a reproducing population increases. Thus, it is imperative that the Corps move as quickly as possible to design and implement measures to reduce that risk.
  • The Corps should not wait until it completes further study of all potential control measures for Brandon Road. Instead, the Corps should proceed in phases, and prioritize those risk-reduction measures that can be most quickly designed and implemented. For example, the Corps could expeditiously design and install technologies (e.g., underwater cameras and/or sonar) to monitor, in real time, for the presence of Asian carp within the Brandon Road Lock. The results of that monitoring could then be used to guide immediate responses, such as changes in lock operations or selective application of fish poison.
  • The Corps need not wait for further Congressional authority before taking any additional action at Brandon Road, or elsewhere in or near the Chicago Waterway. Instead, it should use its existing legal authorities under 2012 and 2014 laws to the fullest extent possible in order to expedite action.

View a map of the Brandon Road site at the following link:

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