u.s. army corps of engineers

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is figuring out new ways to try to block two species of Asian carp — bighead and silver — from getting into Lake Michigan. The Corps also wants to block other aquatic nonnative species from getting into the Lakes from the Mississippi River system.

They’re considering whether to put in new barriers near the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in the Des Plaines River near Chicago. The site is about five miles downstream from a system of electric barriers in the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal. Those barriers are essentially the last line of defense against Asian carp in the Chicago area.

“This may be a perfect site to implement a range of different kinds of technologies," says Dave Wethington, a project manager with the Army Corps in Chicago.

He says the Corps could put in barriers that block fish passage into the lock and dam, or more electric barriers. It could also put in special water guns that use pressure waves to deter carp.

User: ellenm1 / Flickr

Wetlands have all kinds of benefits for people and wildlife. But wetlands have also gotten in the way of farming and building. So, we’ve drained them over the years. 

The federal government has been trying to clarify what kinds of wetlands and small streams fall under the Clean Water Act.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a new rule that they say would clear up confusion. 

Annie Snider is a reporter who covers water issues for Greenwire in Washington, D.C. The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 and Snider says the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers took a broad approach to what fell under it.

"But in 2001, and then again in 2006, there were [Supreme] Court challenges that threw that into question. And after those, the questions of which waters, which streams, which creeks, which wetlands fall under federal power under the Clean Water Act was thrown into question," says Snider.

The 2006 ruling involved two cases out of Michigan. While one contested the rejection of a permit, in the other, the U.S. sued a Midland real estate developer for filling in a wetland property. The developer said the wetland was not a "navigable waterway" and therefore not covered by the CWA. However, until that point, the EPA interpreted "navigable waters" as being "waters of the U.S." and any waters or wetlands connected to one of these waterways. In its ruling, the Supreme Court rejected the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA's limitless authority over water.

After that decision, Snider says that regulators had to make case-by-case decisions about which streams and creeks are important to the downstream waters — the big rivers and lakes that do fall under the Clean Water Act.

CDC

About a hundred people showed up at a public hearing Tuesday night in Ann Arbor to discuss ways to keep Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes.

One by one, people took to the microphone to tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the only way to stop the Asian carp is to close the man-made waterways connecting the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River basin.

Asian carp have devastated native fish populations in parts of the Mississippi River basin since first being introduced in the southern United States. Some species of Asian carp were brought in to help keep retention ponds clean in aquaculture and wastewater treatment facilities.

This week federal officials will talk about the options for preventing Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan.

People and organizations will get a chance to have their say about which option they support. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host meetings in Ann Arbor on Tuesday night and in Traverse City on Thursday.

The meetings are two of six scheduled this month, from Louisiana to Pennsylvania. Officials will also take written comments through early March.

This week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a study about what might be done to keep those invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

It took seven years and that was a rush job after some members of Congress accused the Corps of dragging its feet.

The study outlines eight scenarios.

A new study claims there is evidence that a small number of Asian Carp have reached the Great Lakes.   

Asian Carp is an invasive species that could potentially damage the Great Lakes environment and seven billion dollar fishing industry.

The paper released Thursday was written by scientists with the University of Notre Dame, The Nature Conservancy and Central Michigan University. It summarizes findings from a two-year search for the carp in and around the Great Lakes. 

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by five Great Lakes states that would force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to erect physical barriers to prevent Asian Carp from entering Lake Michigan.

The suit claims that the Corps unwillingness to separate Chicago-area rivers and canals from the lake constitutes a public nuisance.

The AP has more:

WBUR

Michigan congressman Dave Camp is calling out the Army Corps of Engineers for dragging its feet on a plan to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.

Camp released a statement this morning claiming the Corps is ignoring the timeline for completing a plan set out in the Stop Invasive Species Act, legislation he wrote with Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Camp’s law called for a plan to be in place by January 2014

Update 3:12 p.m.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) Congress has approved a measure requiring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to quicken development of a strategy for keeping the Great Lakes free of Asian carp.

Corps officials said in May they would submit a report by the end of 2013, roughly the same time as required under the legislation. But officials said they would provide only a list of options for Congress and the public to consider.

The legislation instead requires specific steps for preventing species migrations at 18 potential entry points, including Chicago-area rivers and canals.

11:29 p.m.

A massive bill, covering everything from highway spending to student loan interest rates to flood insurance, is set to pass the U.S. House and Senate in a rare show of bipartisan deal-making.

And tucked into the legislation is an act that would make the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers speed up their research and planning aimed at keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland) used his spot on a House and Senate negotiation committee to make sure the Stop Invasive Species Act was included as part of the larger law.

The act was introduced by Camp and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) earlier this year and would force the Corps of Engineers to draft a plan within 18 months---about a year ahead of the current schedule.

In a press release, Camp cast the Asian carp threat in both an environmental and economic light:

“Today Congress took an important step to stop Asian carp from devastating the Great Lakes ecosystem.  Over two years ago, a live Asian carp was found in Lake Calumet, less than six miles from Lake Michigan.  The responses so far have been temporary fixes when what we need is a permanent solution.  The Stop Invasive Species Act lays the groundwork to permanently protect our lakes and the $7 billion fishing industry and 800,000 jobs they support.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is tasked with blocking species transfer between the Great Lakes system and the Mississippi River.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

The federal government says it will speed up a decision on how to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species in the Mississippi River basin. The Obama administration announced the new timetable Tuesday.

Carping Criticism

Mar 17, 2011

Remember the Asian carp, which migrated up the Mississippi, into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and which experts feared were about to get into Lake Michigan?

That’s where things stood when I first talked about this issue here more than fifteen months ago. Since then, traces of carp DNA has been found in Lake Michigan, though there is no evidence that a permanent breeding population has been established there.