Asian Carp and the GLMRIS Report
Asian carp continue to threaten the Great Lakes. In January 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its long-awaited study that, for the first time, lays out options for keeping Asian carp and other invasive species out of the Great Lakes. In 2015, Representative Candice Miller (R-Mich.) introduced legislation to take preventative steps to help protect the Great Lakes from these invasive fish.
The report—known as the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS)— acknowledges that the most effective way to protect these two waters from the environmental and economic damage from aquatic invasive species is to physically separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. The report paves the way for Congress and the Great Lakes region to move from study to action on a permanent solution that will protect the environment, jobs and a way of life for millions of people. Temporary fixes—while needed currently—are not a viable long-term strategy to protect the Great Lakes from aquatic invasive species.
Introduced by Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), the Defending our Great Lakes Act gives the Army Corps authority to take near-term action to prevent the spread of invasive species at a critical point near the western end of Chicago—the Brandon Road Lock and Dam. The GLMRIS report called for the construction of an engineered channel at Brandon Road with additional electric barriers, carbon dioxide bubble screens, underwater sound canons, and pheromones all aimed to keep Asian carp from moving closer to Lake Michigan. Read the coalition’s letter of support of the bill here.
Time is of the essence. Congress must ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ study on how to stop aquatic invasive species from transferring from the Mississippi River to Great Lakes and vice versa is followed by action that leads to physically separating the two waters. Changes made to the Brandon Road Lock and Dam will help in the short-term, but we must still work towards longer term physical separation.
Separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River will cost a great deal of money. But if Asian carp take hold in the Great Lakes the cost could be incalculable. In addition, the cost of separating the two waters is in-line with other large-scale municipal infrastructure projects. Confronting this threat now also presents an opportunity to restore Chicago waterways, reduce flooding, and fix dilapidated sewers. The health of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, as well as the communities and jobs they support, are worth it. We cannot put a price tag on our region’s quality of life, and we cannot afford to undermine the investments we are making in the protection of the Great Lakes.