Lawmakers want Asian carp study within a year

By Melissa Nann Burke

This article originally appeared in The Detroit News. To view it on the original page, click here.

Lawmakers have argued for months that further delays increase the risk that the destructive invasive species will reach the freshwater lakes.
(Photo: Jim Weber / AP)

“Nearly $400 million has already been spent in efforts to stop the Asian carp migration, including the construction of three electric barriers to prevent Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan,” the members wrote.

“These barriers are a temporary obstacle, however, and are only partially effective.”

The letter was spearheaded by Reps. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, and Bradley Schneider, D-Illinois, and signed by 10 other Michigan members. Huizenga said “at a minimum,” the Corps should meet its stated deadline of February 2019.

“Given the gravity of the situation, I hope the Corps will present its findings even sooner than anticipated,” said Huizenga, who co-chairs the Great Lakes Task Force.

“It is widely accepted that if Asian carp are able to enter the Great Lakes, it will be nearly impossible to repair the damage done to the ecosystem as well as the economy.”

One of the recipients of the letter, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, said she would ensure it receives the attention on the Appropriations Committee. Kaptur co-chairs the Great Lakes Task Force.

A draft report released in August estimated that upgrades at Brandon Road could cost $275 million and take until at least 2025 to complete, if authorized by Congress.

The draft described tentative measures including installing a new electric barrier to repel or stun the destructive fish and underwater speakers generating “complex noise” to deter them from swimming beyond the lock and dam near Joliet, Illinois, a choke point between the Illinois River and Lake Michigan.

The recommended plan also called for construction of a specially engineered channel fitted with water-propulsion jets and a flushing lock to sweep out small fish and floating organisms such as larvae and eggs.

Asian carp, introduced in the United States in the 1970s, have infested the ecosystems of the Mississippi River, decimating native species.

The capture of an adult silver carp in a Chicago waterway near Lake Michigan last year caused alarm because it had eluded the network of electric barriers designed to stop the fishes’ northward progression.