Army Corps of Engineers plans $275 million in defenses to block Asian carp from reaching Great Lakes

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE _ Underwater noise and powerful water jets are among the $275 million worth of new defenses the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposes building at an Illinois navigation lock on the Des Plaines River to prevent invasive Asian Carp from reaching the Great Lakes.

After several months of delay from President Donald Trump’s administration, the Corps on Monday released its recommended plan for equipping the Brandon Road lock and dam near Joliet, Ill., with several technological measures to block the voracious Asian carp from moving into the lakes.

An electrical barrier downstream of the lock coupled with underwater noises would help deter the invaders, under the Corps plan.

Water jets would be installed along the bottom of a specially designed channel leading into the lock to remove any fish entrained in barges.

The National Wildlife Federation said the Corps plan to make Asian carp “run the gauntlet” before they reach the Brandon Road lock looked promising.

“While we are still evaluating the draft report, our initial reaction is that a combination of these options could possibly reduce the chance that an Asian carp gets through at each stage,” said Marc Smith, Great Lakes Conservation Director for the National Wildlife Federation.

Since bighead and silver carp can grow up to 100 pounds and eat 20 percent of their body weight in plankton each day, scientists and environmental advocates fear they could devastate a Great Lakes fishery worth billions of dollars.

Freshwater biologists say the carp likely would establish large populations in warmer, shallower bays, such as Green Bay.

In June, a single 2-foot-long Asian carp was pulled from the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal approximately 9 miles from the shores of Lake Michigan. That location is above an existing electric barrier system operated by the Corps.

The system has a history of power outages and critics charge it does not operate at a strength to repel even small fish.

The proposed electric barrier at the Brandon Road lock is several miles closer to Lake Michigan than the existing barriers.

The Corps of Engineers is accepting public comments on the Brandon Road lock plan until Sept. 21.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Waterways Council, Inc.