CHICAGO (May 26, 2016) – The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee yesterday released new protocols to rebuff the advance of the invasive fishes on the Great Lakes. Despite evidence that Asian carp are moving closer to Lake Michigan, the new plan does not reflect the urgency of this advancing threat now just outside Chicago. Undercutting assertions from the Committee that the invasion threat has not worsened, the new Corps contingency plan opens the door to closing the shipping locks separating the Chicago Area Waterways from Lake Michigan; an option conservationists assert must remain on the table to protect the Great Lakes.
Following is a statement from members of the Healthy Water Solutions, a coalition of Illinois stakeholders working to modernize the region’s water infrastructure:
The new Contingency Plan lacks a key component: a plan. While we are glad to see a new risk assessment approach and triggers based on the detection of various lifecycle stages of fish in areas along the river, the plan provides only a menu of possible response actions and a process flow chart with no guarantee that any particular actions will be taken.
We welcome the change in how the agencies have worked together and prepared to respond to fish movement. And we call on the agencies to take the most aggressive actions necessary at each location to keep Asian carp from advancing toward the lake.
In the meantime, while the Brandon Road Lock and Dam has been identified as a key choke point between the leading edge of the Asian carp population on the Illinois River and the electric barriers near Chicago, the Army Corps says it will not have any advanced control measures completed at Brandon Road until 2030. That leaves only the electric barriers between the fish and Lake Michigan – barriers that studies have shown allow small fish to pass through.
This is unacceptable. While we were pleased to see that the Contingency Plan’s emergency measures include “temporary flow control” (i.e., lock closure), the plan provides no assurances that any of the measures listed will actually be taken in response to specific threats. The region thus is left with no action on more aggressive, permanent control measures until at least 2030, with only this vague “contingency plan” in the meantime. Instead, our elected officials should echo the people and communities of the Great Lakes and demand from our agencies aggressive emergency action, fast construction at Brandon Road Lock and Dam, and that work begin immediately to design a permanent solution in the Chicago Area Waterways.
For more information visit the Healthy Water Solutions coalition.
Jennifer Caddick, Alliance for the Great Lakes, (315) 767-2802
Margie Kelly, Natural Resources Defense Council, (312) 651-7935
Robert Hirschfeld, Prairie Rivers Network, (217) 344-2371 x205
Katrina Phillips, Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter, (312) 251-1680 x116