Contact(s): Sarah Hoye, DNR Communications Director (608) 267-2773
CHICAGO - The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence states and provinces working to keep invasive Asian carp out of the lakes met in Chicago July 16 and 17 to discuss the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) proposed project at Brandon Road Lock and Dam.
Under the direction of meeting facilitators from Kearns & West, participants from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Quebec, Wisconsin, and the Great Lakes Commission identified topics for advancing meeting outcomes, as well as areas where more discussion is needed.
"It is wonderful to see the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence states and provinces come to the table prepared to deal with one of the major aquatic invasive species that threaten the Great Lakes," said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary-designee Preston Cole. "We all stand ready to do the heavy lifting to ensure that the great lakes remain free of Asian carp. The Great Lakes are a national treasure and a lifeline for millions which is why protecting these irreplaceable waters is a top priority."
Agenda items focused on regional support and efficacy, concerns of partner agencies, project cost and partnerships. They discussed concerns surrounding ecology, biodiversity and public water. Additional points of discussion included structural, technological and non-structural approaches to addressing the spread of Asian carp and the status of current efforts to address the issue.
"I think it's safe to say that everyone came away having learned or accomplished something this week," said Colleen Callahan, Director of Illinois Department of Natural Resources. "The Brandon Road project will not be a small undertaking, and so detailed planning, open discussion and ongoing communications are and will continue to be paramount as the process moves forward."
The project, as proposed by USACE and located at what is considered a key choke point in the fight against Asian carp, would place additional electric barriers in the waterway to stop the invasive species from moving through the lock and dam. It also would utilize an air bubble curtain to dislodge entrained fish. Finally, the plan would employ special underwater speakers while ships move through the locks to blast sound waves at decibels and frequencies to deter Asian carp movement from the downstream approach channel.
"This week's meeting strengthened us as a coalition and kept the process moving forward," said Dan Eichinger, Director, Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "Of course, there are still questions surrounding the design and cost of the plan, but discussion helped to identify, if not ease, some of those concerns."
The Great Lakes hold 90% of the United States' supply of fresh surface water, according to the Great Lakes Commission. More than 48 million Americans and Canadians depend on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River for drinking water.