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Comment period ends for Army Corps Asian carp plan
It's now up to Congress to decide how to direct efforts to prevent invasive carp from getting through Chicago waterways into Great Lakes
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
Invasive Asian carp jump out of the Illinois River. Two species of the voracious fish infest the Mississippi River system and threaten the Great Lakes.
Courtesy of USFWS
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Today is the last day the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is accepting public comment on proposals to block invasive Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. 

WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports that while the public prefers complete separation, the Army Corps is also considering less costly alternatives.

 

St.Clair: Asian carp options

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The Army Corps logged nearly 16 hours of public testimony from 11 public meetings this winter across the Midwest, including a January meeting in Cleveland. 

The Corps laid out eight options to stop the onslaught of Asian carp, ranging from so-called nonstructural controls like nets, chemical and electric barriers, to the most popular plan, an $18 billion complete separation of the Chicago waterways from the Great Lakes. 

At the Cleveland meeting project manager Dave Wethington told me that while the Army Corps can begin installing the nonstructural controls, they won’t go further without a mandate from Congress. 

Wehtington says, “The final decision to move forward with constructing a new alternative would have to be authorized by Congress.  We have an existing authority to study one of these potential alternatives, but as a matter of policy our agency is really seeking that consensus from our stakeholders.” 

While environmental groups, and fishermen prefer placing physical barriers in the water, shipping interests have a vested interest in keeping the Chicago channels open.

Once a solution is hammered out, construction could begin in 2017 and take an estimated 25 years to complete.

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