The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has released a draft of its study on how aquatic invasive species can move between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins - the boundary between the basins stretches for around 1,500 miles.
Not including the major pathway of the 'Chicago Area Waterway,' the USACE said there are a total of 18 potential pathways:
A total of 36 locations were identified in 2010 where an aquatic pathway was initially thought to exist. Based on review of available resource information and some site investigation, this was subsequently reduced to 18 locations that were then subjected to more detailed analysis in 2011-2012.
These are potential pathways for ALL aquatic invasive species. That could mean Skipjack herring, Three-spine stickleback, and Red-macro algae.
But the aquatic invasive species researchers are most concerned about these days are two species of Asian carp: Bighead carp, and Silver carp.
John Goss is the Asian carp director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ):
"This draft report provides important information to help federal agencies and states and communities address the range of potential entry points for Asian carp into the Great Lakes," said Goss. "We will continue to take comprehensive action to protect our Great Lakes and the communities that depend on them, and to ensure an effective long-term solution that works for Great Lakes communities."
Asian carp are most likely to access the lakes through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, where the USACE has set up a system of three electric barriers to keep the fish out.
In the report, they identify Eagle Marsh as the second-most likely route for Asian carp.
The Environment Report's Rebecca Williams recently took a look at the chain-link fence set up to keep the carp out.
The USACE is asking for public comment on this draft report. They say they will "review and incorporate public input before finalizing and re-issuing the report later in winter 2012."