SOUTH HAVEN – Gov. Rick Snyder announced Wednesday the creation of a new Great Lakes Basin Partnership to Block Asian Carp that will commit strategic and financial resources to support the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP). The partnership will offer a combination of solutions to reduce the risk of invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes at the Brandon Road Lock & Dam in Joliet, Illinois. Michigan, Ontario, Ohio and Wisconsin are the founding members of this partnership. Together, these jurisdictions represent more than 90 percent of Great Lakes surface area.
“Michigan is stepping up to take a leadership role due to the urgency of this situation and the efforts necessary to prevent the entry of Asian carp into the Great Lakes,” Snyder said. “Invasive carp pose a huge risk to several of our state’s economic drivers, including tourism and fishing. Our natural resources are what make Pure Michigan so special and, as a state, we need to do everything we can to protect these resources for generations to come.
“No single state, province or government jurisdiction should have to bear the sole responsibility of keeping invasive carp out of the Great Lakes. Michigan is excited to partner with Ohio, Ontario and Wisconsin, and is looking to join with other states and provinces in the Great Lakes Basin to work collaboratively. We need to maximize protection against invasive carp species while partnering to ensure commerce on the waterway is efficient and safe and has the capacity to meet long-term navigation needs.”
Experts say the entrance of invasive carp would irreparably damage the Great Lakes ecosystem, the $7 billion fishery and other economic interests dependent on the Great Lakes. An estimated $8 million is needed annually to provide the nonfederal share of funding to operate and maintain the improved system, which is the budget gap Gov. Snyder and this partnership seeks to resolve.
“The Great Lakes are an incredible asset to the State of Wisconsin and other Great Lakes states. I believe that we need to protect our lakes; that is why I am signing on to this letter urging action by the Corps of Engineers,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said. “This study will help determine the best way to prevent the spread of Asian carp, which is essential to safeguarding our environment and commercial fisheries.”
The Army Corps says it could begin construction on a $275 million federally funded invasive carp barrier improvement project in 2022 at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam with the system becoming operational by 2025. The plan incorporates 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.
Gov. Snyder said he is directing the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to review potential opportunities to meet the nonfederal requirements for supporting the first five years of operating and maintenance costs with each of the eight Great Lakes states (Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Indiana) and two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec). The goal also will include identifying opportunities to secure more long-term and sustainable sources of funding for continued operation. Additionally, Michigan has worked with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to make federal advanced funds available for the construction of this project.
“Asian carp pose a very real and serious threat to our waterways. Partnering with Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin on the Brandon Road Lock and Dam project will build on our long-standing efforts to protect the Great Lakes against aquatic invasions, and I look forward to continuing to work together to ensure our shared waterways and their ecosystems remain healthy and resilient,” Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne said.
In June 2017, a 28-inch-long silver carp was caught approximately nine miles from Lake Michigan, beyond the electric barrier system meant to keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes. An autopsy and analysis by Southern Illinois University indicated the fish spent from a few weeks to a few months in the section of river where it was caught. There was no indication of how the fish ended up beyond the electric barriers.
The discovery of a second invasive carp found beyond the barrier – a bighead carp was captured in 2010 – underscores the need for action and innovation, said Michigan Department of Natural Resources Deputy Director Bill O’Neill, who spoke at the news conference today with Gov. Snyder.
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 Asian 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.