Monday, November 16, 2009

Ship Canal To Close For Asian Carp Barrier Maintenance

Nov 13: Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) announced that a section of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) is planned to be closed to all traffic, weather permitting, beginning December 2 for a period of four to five days. During the first week of December, the ACOE is planning to perform scheduled maintenance on Barrier IIA, one of two electric barriers presently in operation on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal constructed to prevent the movement of the destructive Asian carp into Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes. Performing scheduled maintenance is required in order to maintain reliability of the structures and minimize the risk of unplanned outages due to inadequate maintenance.

During the maintenance shutdown, Barrier I will remain active. However, because of late summer detection of Asian carp near the barrier system and concern that Barrier I may not be effective in deterring juvenile fish, a fish toxicant called rotenone will be applied to the canal between the barrier and the Lockport Lock and Dam. The application will allow for the removal of Asian carp and other fish to keep them from advancing past the barrier toward Lake Michigan. Illinois EPA water quality experts will be monitoring downstream of the application zone to ensure that the waters of the state are protected, and the chemicals do not move beyond the designated application area.

IDNR Assistant Director John Rogner said, “The barrier is currently the only protection against Asian carp for the Great Lakes and the maintenance shutdown may present an opportunity for the destructive fish to advance up the canal toward Lake Michigan. During this process, the U.S. Coast Guard will be enforcing a safety zone and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) will be closed to all commercial and recreational vessel traffic between CSSC Mile Marker 291 and CSSC Mile Marker 298.

Michigan Lt. Governor John Cherry issued a release saying that because work on the planned second part of the existing barrier (2B) isn't complete, an emergency response plan was announced to ensure that carp are contained when Barrier 2A is deactivated for planned maintenance in December. Cherry said, "Michigan has supported plans to protect the Great Lakes during a period when the existing barrier may be deactivated for maintenance, however, these emergency response efforts fall short of the long term solution needed. We know the damage Asian Carp would cause if they reached the Great Lakes, and we must take every available action to prevent that from happening."

Cherry called for the following actions: completion of work on Barrier 2B; full power operation of Barrier 2A (currently operating at half power); installation of a physical barrier to prevent carp, detected in the nearby Des Plaines River, from entering the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal during periods of flooding; and making the CSSC a priority as the Corps of Engineers studies a range of options and technologies to prevent the transfer of aquatic invasive species.

Access an announcement from IDNR and link to more information on the Asian Carp (
click here). Access a Federal Register announcement [74 FR 58545-58550, 11/13/09] from the Coast Guard (click here). Access a release from Lt. Governor Cherry (click here).