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Local

Michigan governor pledges ‘strategic and financial resources’ in fight against Asian carp entering Great Lakes through Joliet

Rick Snyder announced creation of Great Lakes Basin Partnership to Block Asian Carp

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced the creation of a new partnership that will “commit strategic and financial resources” to supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet Wednesday.

The Great Lakes Basin Partnership to Block Asian Carp supports the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Tentatively Selected Plan, which includes a $275 million proposal of noise generation, an electric barrier, an engineered channel, a flushing lock and water jets placed at the lock and dam.

Michigan, Ontario, Ohio and Wisconsin are the founding members of the partnership, according to a news release from Snyder’s office. The jurisdictions represent more than 90 percent of the Great Lakes’ surface area.

“Michigan is stepping up to take a leadership role due to the urgency of this situation and the efforts necessary to prevent the entry of Asian carp into the Great Lakes,” Snyder said. “Invasive carp pose a huge risk to several of our state’s economic drivers, including tourism and fishing. Our natural resources are what make Pure Michigan so special and, as a state, we need to do everything we can to protect these resources for generations to come.

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 of last year 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 – 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 of where the fish ended up.

“No single state, province or government jurisdiction should have to bear the sole responsibility of keeping invasive carp out of the Great Lakes,” Snyder said in a statement. “We need to maximize protection against invasive carp species while partnering to ensure commerce on the waterway is efficient and safe and has the capacity to meet long-term navigation needs.”

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

The plan includes an engineered approach channel; water jets to sweep out fish caught between barges; a flushing lock to eliminate fish eggs, larvae or floaters from going upstream toward the Great Lakes Basin; noise systems to keep fish out of the channel; and electric barriers at the lock’s entrances, according to the release.

Snyder said he is directing natural resource officials to review potential opportunities to meet the nonfederal requirements for supporting the first five years of operating and maintenance costs with each of the eight Great Lakes States (Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Indiana) and two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec), according to the release.

The goal also will include identifying opportunities to secure more long-term and sustainable sources of funding for continued operation, according to the release.

Additionally, Michigan has worked with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to make federal funds available for construction.

Experts have said the species’ entrance would irreparably damage the Great Lakes ecosystem, the $7 billion fishery and other economic interests dependent on the Great Lakes, according to the release.

An estimated $8 million is needed annually to provide the nonfederal share of funding to operate and maintain the improved system – an amount the partnership seeks to cover.

Previously, Michigan’s attorney general sent a letter, also signed by attorneys general from Minnesota and Pennsylvania, to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking for a wall to be built to close down the Joliet lock.

“It is time that a permanent and effective solution be implemented to prevent the spread of this invasive species,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette previously said in a news release. “The Great Lakes are the crown jewel of the Midwest, and the potential damage both environmentally and economically from Asian carp is too great to risk, which is why we have asked the corps to close the Brandon Road lock.”

That plan came with a $5.9 million price tag.

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