Last week the US Senate seized the evening approving a carp barrier to stop the rapidly reproducing Asian carp dead in its collective track. But was it soon enough?
A commercial fishermen recently caught one of the incidious fish in the south end of Lake Huron. While we don’t know if this carp was a scout for fellow invasives perched just miles from Lake Michigan or part of a pioneering landing crew prepared to take over all the Great Lakes, at least the Senate did approve a permanent electric Carp Barrier for the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
The barrier is part of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that authorizes several programs that will help the Great Lakes restoration effort, the most needed of all being the Carp Barrier. The $9 million authorization will help the Corps of Engineers to construct and maintain a permanent barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal from the migrating fish traveling up the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers gobbling up algae and starving out native fish along the way. The move is one small step toward inhibiting a beastly fish and one giant leap toward achieving Great Lakes restoration. In addition to the carp barrier, the bill includes several programs that are part of the comprehensive plan to restore the lakes, such as:
- Increasing funding for the national aquatic ecosystem and estuary restoration program and includes dam removal projects.
- Helping stem the sea lamprey in Lake Erie.
- Cleaning up of toxic harbors through the Great Lakes remediation action plans.
- Reducing soil erosion and non-point source pollution through the Great Lakes tributary model program.
- Giving local governments much needed assistance to control “invasive feces” as one reporter put it, better known as sewer overflows.
- Calling for a pilot project to control and prevent further spread of the deadly non-native pathogen VHS in the Great Lakes.
But, pinch your nose, the stinky part is coming: WRDA is also stuffed with pork barrel programs that are not – ahem – environmentally friendly – Yikes! So while the Senate and House were busy passing their constituent-friendly bill….President George W. Bush was back at the ranch heating up the barbeque for a pig roasting. Translation: the Veto is coming.
Well, hopefully the President has prepared some hush puppies and corn-on-the-cob ‘cause otherwise he may just have an empty plate – Congress appears to have the votes for an override.
Bottom line: good programs, bad bill. We are ecstatic to have the barrier as it is essential to the survival and vitality of the Great Lakes. We are also grateful and happy with the other restoration programs promised in the bill. Let’s all holler, woo hoo, just don’t shout it too loud.