The governors of Illinois and Michigan on Thursday announced an agreement to partner and share costs to protect the Great Lakes from the invasive Asian carp.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Gov. JB Pritzker partnered across their respective Department of Natural Resources (DNR), allowing Illinois to use up to $8 million in 2018 Michigan Legislature appropriations to support the pre-construction engineering and design (PED) phase of the Brandon Road Ecosystem Project near Joliet, Illinois.
Illinois also signed a separate PED agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the initial Brandon Road design to fund a portion of the project’s design and advance the full project design efforts to approximately 30% completion.
The Brandon Road Lock and Dam in the Chicago Area Waterway System is a chokepoint to obstruct bighead, silver, and black carp – some of the invasive Asian carp’s most concerning species – from entering the Great Lakes.
The Brandon Road project aims to install layered technologies, including an electric barrier, underwater sound, an air bubble curtain, and a flushing lock in a new channel to prevent invasive carp passage but allow barges through.
“Preventing invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes was a day one priority for my administration. We know it’s been a priority for a lot of others, but we needed to take action, and that’s what today’s action represents,” Whitmer said in a statement.
“The Great Lakes support 1.3 million jobs, including over 350,000 jobs right here in Michigan. That’s why after decades of work, today Michigan, along with the State of Illinois and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has taken a historic step towards protecting the Great Lakes from Asian carp.”
The PED, finalized on Dec. 29, stipulates Illinois will cover 35% of the projected PED costs, Michigan will fund $8 million, and the IDNR will contribute the remaining $2.5 million.
“Michigan and Illinois agree on the importance of keeping invasive carp out of the Great Lakes, and natural resources staff from both states have been working together to support the Army Corps’ actions to deter and remove invasive carp in the waterway,” Michigan DNR Director Dan Eichinger said in a statement.
“This agreement is the natural progression of our existing partnership as we take steps toward a more permanent solution to prevent this serious threat to the economy and ecology of the Great Lakes.”
University of Michigan researchers worry the arrival of live bighead, silver, or black carp in the Great Lakes could wreck the region’s $7 billion fishing industry, $16 billion boating industry, and other tourism-based industries that thrive on the Great Lakes.
“Asian carp can grow to four feet long and weigh as much as 100 pounds and can eat up to 40% of their weight daily,” the Wall Street Journal reported, traits that threaten to throw off the Great Lakes ecosystem as well as hurt native fish populations.
Once federal funding is secured through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Work Plan, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers anticipates a three-to-four-year timeframe for completing the initial Brandon Road design then pursuing further construction to reduce of invasive carp migration into Lake Michigan.
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