Wednesday, March 28, 2018
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today thanked Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago city leaders for including their municipality as the newest member of the Great Lakes Basin Partnership to Block Asian Carp. The partnership is a multijurisdictional coalition that supports the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to reduce the risk of invasive carp entering the Great Lakes by upgrading security at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois.
“We commend Mayor Emanuel and the residents of Chicago for taking a leadership role to protect the Great Lakes,” said Snyder, who announced the partnership’s creation during a Jan. 31 press conference in South Haven, Michigan. “The Great Lakes comprise the largest freshwater system in the world. Protecting the ecosystems and economies of the Great Lakes for generations to come, while also maintaining navigability, is a top priority for the Great Lakes states.”
Chicago will provide policy support for the Army Corps’ tentative plan and joins the partnership’s founding members of Michigan, Ontario, Ohio and Wisconsin that have committed to providing support for the tentative plan.
“Chicago takes our responsibility to preserve and protect the Great Lakes seriously, and we are proud to stand with our regional partners in the fight against the threat of invasive species,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Chicago will always do our part to safeguard the future of the Great Lakes for future generations, and we hope other Illinois leaders will step up and join us in this essential effort.”
The plan proposes new and additional measures to stop invasive carp – especially silver and bighead carp, the two species of greatest concern – at Brandon Road Lock and Dam. The discovery last June of a silver carp just 9 miles from Lake Michigan has added to the sense of urgency for additional security. An internal Army Corps decision on the plan is expected by June.
Chicago’s inclusion in the partnership is contained in a letter released today expressing the nonbinding commitment of the states of Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, the province of Ontario and the city of Chicago for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Brandon Road Feasibility Study. The study will evaluate control mechanisms to prevent the spread of invasive carp from the Mississippi River watershed to the Great Lakes basin.
The Army Corps is considering a suite of technologies, including an engineered approach channel that could serve as a national test model for invasive species monitoring and control; water jets to sweep out fish caught between barges; a flushing lock to eliminate fish eggs, larvae or floaters from going upstream toward the Great Lakes Basin; complex noise systems to keep fish out of the channel; and state-of-the-art electric barriers at the lock’s entrances.
An estimated $8 million is needed annually to provide the nonfederal share of funding to operate and maintain the stronger safeguards, which is the budget gap the Great Lakes Basin Partnership and leading stakeholders seek to resolve.
The partnership’s letter highlights Gov. Snyder’s decision that Michigan will accept the primary funding responsibility for cost-share requirements to maintain and operate the improved security system for the first five years once the technology is up and running. The partnership’s goal also includes identifying opportunities to secure more long-term and sustainable sources of funding for continued operation.
In addition, the partnership’s letter to the Army Corps reiterates a call for Congress to approve federal funding for implementation of the $275 million proposed security improvements resulting from the feasibility study. The Army Corps proposes the federal government should pay 65 percent of the $275 million project’s construction costs, with a “non-federal partner” providing the rest.
Snyder said Michigan has worked with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to pass legislation to make significant funds available for construction of the Brandon Road project. A recently enacted law could enable cities or states to help cover such costs with funds the federal government owes them for advance payment toward other public infrastructure upgrades.
With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes coastline, 11,000 inland lakes and 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, Michigan faces the greatest risk and has the most at stake if invasive carp infest the Great Lakes Basin.
The second jurisdiction with the most risk, in terms of the percentage of its Great Lakes surface water area, is Ontario, Canada (36 percent), followed by Wisconsin (nearly 10 percent), New York (4.27 percent), Ohio (3.75 percent), Minnesota (2.69 percent), Illinois (1.66 percent), Pennsylvania (less than 1 percent), and Indiana (less than 1 percent). Quebec also is indirectly affected due to the Great Lakes feeding into the St. Lawrence Seaway.
To learn more about invasive carp and encourage elected officials and policymakers to help protect the Great Lakes, visit www.BlockAsianCarp.org.