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Illinois Going 'Next Level' To Stop Asian Carp
By The Associated Press
JOLIET - Illinois, Michigan and the Army Corps of Engineers have agreed on funding the next phase of an initiative to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes by strengthening defenses on a Chicago-area waterway.

Pre-construction engineering and design costs will be shared for the $858 million project near Joliet, Illinois on the Des Plaines River, a choke point between the carp-infested Illinois River and Lake Michigan.

A plan approved by the Corps in 2019 calls for installing a gauntlet of technologies to deter approaching fish, including electric barriers and underwater speakers that would blast loud noises, plus an “air bubble curtain.” A specially designed “flushing lock” would wash away carp that might be floating on the water as vessels pass through.

The next step is developing design and engineering specifications, expected to take three to four years and cost about $28 million. The Corps will pay $18 million and Michigan $8 million. Illinois will chip in $2.5 million. Once design is complete, building the system will take six to eight years.

Extensive research is still needed for some features, which never have been built to the required scale.

Four species of carp were imported from Asia in the 1960s and 1970s to clear algae from Deep South sewage ponds and fish farms. They escaped into the Mississippi River and have moved north into dozens of tributaries.

Government agencies, advocacy groups and others have long debated how to prevent them from reaching the Great Lakes, with a fishing industry valued at $7 billion.

“If Asian carp invade the Great Lakes, they would have a devastating impact on our fisheries, tourism and outdoor recreation economies, and way of life across the region,” said Marc Smith, policy director for the National Wildlife Federation.

A shipping canal that forms part of the link between the Mississippi and Lake Michigan has a network of fish-repelling barriers, which the Corps says is effective but critics consider inadequate. The Joliet project will provide another layer of protection further downstream.


Published 07:56 PM, Saturday Jan. 09, 2021
Updated 02:37 PM, Sunday Jan. 10, 2021

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