A new plan released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study how to prevent invasive species such as Asian carp from migrating between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watersheds could take up to 5 years before a recommendation on how to stop the movement of the species is reached. The $25 million study was authorized by Congress in 2007 and was funded last year. It will focus on Chicago waterways and possible flooding areas that could allow invasive species to slip between the two watersheds.
For good reason, the lack of urgency from the Corps has been a hot button for Joel Brammeier, president of the alliance for the Great Lakes, as he told the Associated Press: “Is this where we stand? A plan to do a study? We all know a solution will not come online overnight, but we continue to see deadlines pushed back.”
The alliance advocates for permanently separating the two watersheds. Opponents suggest closing the shipping locks undermines flood control measures in the Chicago region and would cost tour-boat, barge, and other companies billions of dollars in lost business.
If Asian carp continue to invade the Great Lakes, a $7 billion-a-year fishing industry is at risk. The shipping industry argues that any solution must keep the two waterways open in order to move goods between them. The Corps hopes to uncover the best solution and possibly implement it before the study is fully completed.