Monday, November 1, 2010
Oct 29: U.S. Representatives Judy Biggert and Daniel Lipinski, officials from the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the office of Senator Richard Durbin joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), U.S. EPA, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago; Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and Cook, DuPage and Will counties at a ribbon cutting to mark the completion of barricades along the Des Plaines River and I&M Canal. The project was designed and constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and funded through the U.S. Army Environmental Protection Agency as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
The measures are intended to reduce the risk of Asian carp being swept from the Des Plaines River and I&M Canal into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) during heavy rains and flooding. The Des Plaines River barricade, a project completed on time and under budget, consists of concrete barriers and a specially fabricated wire mesh that allows water to flow through the fence but prevents the passage of fish. The fence extends approximately 13 miles from Romeoville, IL to Willow Springs, IL. The completion of this project marks yet another milestone met in the framework laid out by the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC).
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been operating a system of electric barriers near Romeoville, IL to prevent invasive species, including Asian carp, from migrating into Lake Michigan via the CSSC. The Water Resources Development Act of 2007 directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to maximize the effectiveness of the barrier system by conducting a study of a range factors that could potentially reduce the efficacy of the Electrical Dispersal Barriers. The first report USACE completed under this authority identified areas of potential bypass upstream of the electric barriers during flooding and recommended construction of this barricade along the Des Plaines River, along with a stone blockage in the I&M Canal.
Colonel Vincent Quarles, commander, USACE Chicago District said, "Construction of these measures is crucial to reducing the risk of Asian carp bypassing the barriers. The electric barriers focus on the largest, most direct, pathway. Now, we have measures in place to reduce the possibility of Asian carp entering the CSSC via those flanking waterways."
Oct 27: Charged with developing a draft plan for Michigan to address potential monitoring and assessment needs for Asian carps, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE) Fisheries Division Management Team quietly released their report. MDNRE indicates that the plan is not intended as a rapid response plan, but rather as the beginning of a comprehensive strategy for addressing the threat of Asian carps dispersing, or being introduced, into Michigan waters. According to an announcement posted on the Asian Carp Regional Coordination Committee (ACRCC) website, the questions the Fisheries Division Asian Carps Working Group attempt to address in the draft plan include the following:
- What does the Department need to do to adequately address the threat of Asian carp species invading Michigan waters?
- What sampling strategies are appropriate in addressing this threat?
- What should our response be if Asian carps, either isolated individuals or abundant populations, are detected in Michigan waters?
- What are the pros and cons of various possible management strategies?
- What types of resources (both financial and human) are necessary to adequately address this threat?
The Fisheries Division Asian Carps Working Group ((D. Clapp, J. Mistak, K. Smith, M. Tonello) that developed the draft plan said, "Within this report, common strategies are combined under five goals: prevention, communication, detection, assessment, and management. These goals are presented in what our group feels to be the priority order for management action. Prevention and communication are of immediate importance. If Asian carps are detected in Michigan waters, then we will be forced to undertake assessment and management actions. We restricted ourselves almost entirely to analysis and documentation of strategies and actions that could be directly implemented by MDNRE and other Michigan agency staff. So, while our group feels that implementing ecological separation (for example, between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River system) is probably the strategy with the highest likelihood of success, we did not directly include this as a strategy within our plan since the MDNRE cannot independently implement separation. Likewise, while political action has some likelihood of success in preventing Asian carps from reaching Michigan, such action is not directly within our scope of authority. . .
"Our group feels that the Department should begin as soon as possible to act on the recommendations outlined in this report. To facilitate such action, we have highlighted the following strategies that our group feels are most critical to immediately addressing the threat of introduction of Asian carps to Michigan waters." Among the recommendations to be implemented immediately are the formation of a Michigan Asian Carps Task Group, with initial membership coming from MDNRE and Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), the launch of a public education campaign and quick implementation of an effective surveillance plan.