State

Chicago joins Great Lakes Basin Partnership to Block Asian Carp

Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio also part of Great Lakes Basin Partnership

Chicago is supporting a plan to shield the Great Lakes from invasive Asian carp by strengthening defenses at a crucial Illinois choke point – the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet.

The city has joined the Great Lakes Basin Partnership to Block Asian Carp, an initiative established in January. Other members include the states of Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, and the Canadian province of Ontario.

The jurisdictions represent more than 90 percent of the Great Lakes’ surface area, a news release from Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s office stated.

The group supports the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Tentatively Selected Plan, which includes a $275 million plan for new measures at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam. Among them are electric fish barriers, water jets and other devices to prevent the carp from using Chicago-area waterways to reach Lake Michigan.

The Army Corps said it could begin construction on the $275 million federally funded project in 2022. The system reportedly would become operational by 2025.

The partnership’s goals also will include identifying opportunities to secure more long-term and sustainable sources of funding. An estimated $8 million is needed annually to provide the nonfederal share of funding to operate and maintain the improved system – an amount the group seeks to cover.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Chicago endorses the draft plan and will do its part to protect the lakes from invasive species.

One of the invasive silver carp, known to fly out of the water when startled by boat noise and other loud sounds, was caught in June on the Little Calumet River somewhere in Chicago’s south suburbs.

It was the first Asian carp since 2010 found upstream of three electric barriers, which were installed years ago to prevent them from reaching the Great Lakes in the Romeoville stretch of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, nearly 30 miles downstream from where the fish ended up.

Previously, Michigan’s attorney general sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking for a wall to be built to close down the lock and dam.

• Herald-News Associate Editor Lindsay Gloor contributed to this report.

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