Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Great Lakes Basin Partnership to Block Asian Carp?

Supporters who back Michigan Gov. Snyder’s proposal for a Great Lakes Basin partnership have kicked off a new public education campaign to promote awareness of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Tentatively Selected Plan, which offers a combination of solutions to reduce the risk of invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes at the Brandon Road Lock & Dam in Joliet, Ill.

Who are the partnership members?

The partnership was founded by Michigan, Ontario, Ohio and Wisconsin, and was recently joined by the City of Chicago. The coalition includes recreation, environmental, conservation, business and civic organizations, elected officials, policymakers and thousands of concerned citizens throughout the Great Lakes who support Michigan’s call for a Block Asian Carp regional partnership that aligns with the Army Corps’ recommendation as the most viable option to prevent the invasive species from destroying the Great Lakes.

Why is Michigan leading the campaign?

With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes coastline, 11,000 inland lakes and 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, Michigan faces the greatest risk and has the most at stake if Asian carp infest the Great Lakes Basin. The state’s surface water area of the Great Lakes exceeds 40 percent, more than any other jurisdiction. Tourism has long been a major sector in Michigan’s economy, with visitors spending more than $20 billion and generating an economic impact of about $37 billion in 2014 alone.

Beyond Michigan, what additional Great Lakes Basin jurisdictions are at risk from invasive carp?

After Michigan, the second jurisdiction with the most risk, in terms of the percentage of its Great Lakes surface water area, is Ontario, Canada (36 percent), followed by Wisconsin (nearly 10 percent), New York (4.27 percent), Ohio (3.75 percent), Minnesota (2.69 percent), Illinois (1.66 percent), Pennsylvania (.79 percent), Indiana (.25 percent) and Quebec (less than 1 percent).

What is the role of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?

The Army Corps is the most unbiased, objective and science-based source of information about the challenges and potential solutions to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, while minimizing impacts to existing waterway uses and users.

When could work on the Army Corps’ Tentatively Selected Plan begin?

The Army Corps says it could begin construction on a $275 million federally funded invasive carp barrier improvement project in 2022 at the Brandon Road Lock & Dam with the system becoming operational by 2025.

What will the Army Corps’ Tentatively Selected Plan do?

The plan incorporates a suite of technologies including:

  • An engineered approach channel that could serve as a national test model for invasive species monitoring and control.
  • Water jets to sweep out fish caught between barges.
  • A flushing lock to eliminate fish eggs and larvae or floaters from going upstream toward the Great Lakes Basin.
  • Complex noise systems to keep fish out of the channel.
  • State-of-the-art electric barriers at the lock’s entrances.

Why is upgrading security at the Brandon Road Lock & Dam essential to preventing the spread of invasive carp in the Great Lakes Basin?

The Brandon Road site, located just before the Des Plaines River and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal Divide, is unique because it allows a single point to control for all five of the potential ways that a species could move from the Mississippi River Basin toward the Great Lakes, according to the Army Corps. Experts say the entrance of invasive carp would irreparably damage the Great Lakes ecosystem, the $7 billion fishery and other economic interests dependent on the Great Lakes and its tributaries.

How can invasive carp destroy the Great Lakes Basin and harm public safety?

Invasive carp represent a substantial risk to many sectors of our Great Lakes regional economy, including tourism, hunting and fishing, and waterborne commerce. Silver carp, one of the invasive carp species threatening the Great Lakes, would significantly disrupt the food chain that supports native fish in the lakes and their tributaries. The fish reproduce at a high rate and outcompete native species for food. They pose a direct threat to human life because they leap high out of the water when prompted by the vibrations of recreational watercraft. The leaping fish have injured people recreating on the water.

What evidence reflects the threat of invasive carp is real?

In June 2017, a 28-inch-long silver carp was caught approximately 9 miles from Lake Michigan, beyond the electric barrier system meant to keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes. An autopsy and analysis by Southern Illinois University indicated the fish spent from a few weeks to a few months in the section of river where it was caught. There was no indication of how the fish ended up beyond the electric barriers. The discovery of a second invasive carp found beyond the barrier – a bighead carp was captured in 2010 – underscores the need for action and innovation.

What challenge is Michigan and other Great Lakes Basin jurisdictions trying to address?

An estimated $8 million is needed annually to provide the nonfederal share of funding to operate and maintain the improved system, which is the budget gap Michigan Gov. Snyder and leading stakeholders seek to resolve. Michigan is committed to making certain operation and maintenance of these preventive measures are fully funded for the first five years. The goal also includes identifying opportunities to secure more long-term and sustainable sources of funding for continued operation.

Why is a regional approach the best solution?

A regional partnership approach strikes the right balance to most fairly, efficiently and effectively protect the economies and environment of the Great Lakes Basin.

Why shouldn’t Illinois pay for the project’s estimated $8 million annual operating and maintenance costs since the state is responsible for the Brandon Road Lock & Dam?

No single state, province or government jurisdiction should have to bear the responsibility alone of keeping invasive carp out of the Great Lakes. Michigan is looking to join with other states and provinces in the Great Lakes Basin and work collaboratively to maximize protection against invasive carp species, while also partnering to ensure commerce on the waterway is efficient and safe and has the capacity to meet long-term navigation needs.

What can the public do?

Urge your state’s elected officials and policymakers to join the Great Lakes Basin Partnership to Block Asian Carp and ask them to call for immediate implementation of the Army Corps’ plan to ensure invasive carp never enter the Great Lakes.

How long has this issue gone unresolved?

In 2007, Congress directed the secretary of the Army, acting through the chief of engineers, to conduct a study evaluating a range of options and technologies available to prevent the transfer of aquatic nuisance species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins via aquatic pathways.

Will this effort automatically lead to construction of new controls?

No. Congressional authorization would be required in order to move forward with construction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ recommended plan, including estimates of time and cost for the construction of any recommended alternatives. Traditionally, Congress would make any decisions for authorization and funding based on the recommendation of the chief of the Corps of Engineers.

Why can’t the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just hurry up and build something?

Congressional authorization is required in order to move forward with construction of a recommended plan. Additionally, further technical design and evaluation of possible control measures is necessary to ensure a viable, efficient and justifiable solution.

How would a possible project at Brandon Road impact navigation?

A comprehensive evaluation of the possible impacts to commercial navigation will be conducted as part of the Brandon Road analysis, including an evaluation of both construction-phase and operational-phase impacts. Attempts will be made to minimize any adverse impacts to existing uses and users of the waterways, including navigation.

How do the electric barriers work?

The electric barrier system includes the construction and operation of three electric barriers. Each barrier would consist of steel electrodes that are secured to the bottom of the canal and connected to electrical equipment in an on-land control building. A low-voltage, pulsing DC current is sent through the electrodes, creating an electric field in the water. The electric field is uncomfortable for fish and deters them from swimming across it. The electric barriers do not block the flow of water or the movement of vessels, so the canal can continue to serve its intended purposes for conveyance of treated wastewater, stormwater management and navigation.

Effective barrier operation is dependent on a proper combination of the frequency, length and amplitude of the DC pulses. USACE conducts studies and continues to monitor the invasive carp threat to ensure optimal settings. Each barrier built takes lessons learned from the previous ones to ensure the most effective deterrence tool possible.

Where would the electric barriers be located?

They would be located about 37 miles downstream from Lake Michigan in the man-made Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal connects the Chicago and Des Plaines rivers, creating a continuous waterway connection between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.

How does the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers monitor the location of invasive carp?

The Army Corps works with other agencies to help determine the location and abundance of Asian carp in the area and to also analyze the effectiveness of the electric barriers. Methods include traditional netting, electrofishing from a boat, collecting water samples for DNA, tracking tagged fish through receivers (telemetry) and using acoustic cameras (dual-frequency identification sonar, or DIDSON) to view real-time fish behavior in response to the barriers’ electrical field. The Army Corps will continue to work collaboratively to apply the best science, data and facts available to constantly improve the collective invasive carp monitoring effort.

Where are the invasive carp today?

The latest monitoring information is available at http://www.asiancarp.us.

How can I learn more?

Details about projects and programs being undertaken in the U.S. and Canada are outlined in the Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework document available at http://asiancarp.us. The framework is updated annually. More information on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ strategies can be found at http://www.lrc.usace.army.mil.

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