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GLIN==> Congress urged to act against Great Lakes invaders



Contact: Tom Crane, Great Lakes Commission, 734-971-9135, tcrane@glc.org

Critical Asian carp barrier at risk

Congress urged to act against Great Lakes invaders


After a close call in which the Great Lakes could have lost one of its major
protections against invasive species, especially the Asian carp, the Great
Lakes Commission is urging Congress to take action to ensure that it doesn?t
happen again.

The Commission is calling for Congress to pass the long-delayed Water Resources
Development Act which, in addition to addressing other Great Lakes needs,
provides for the permanent operation of an Asian carp barrier in the Chicago
Sanitary and Shipping Canal.

The barrier faced being shut down before the U.S. Senate approved emergency
legislation Thursday morning authorizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to
operate the facility on a temporary basis. The barrier had been schedule to
cease operation on Monday, May 8, due to a lack of funds and limits on the
funding authority.

?In order to provide authority for a permanent, effective barrier against Asian
carp through the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal, Congress must swiftly
pass the Water Resources Development Act,? said Tom Huntley, chair of the Great
Lakes Commission. ?We can?t keep relying on stopgap measures to protect the
Great Lakes against an invader that could wreak vast ecological damage and
devastate our sportfishing industry.?

The barrier uses an electric field to prevent Asian carp and other invasive
species from reaching the Great Lakes via the Mississippi River system, where
they have become established. The Water Resources Development Act would provide
permanent authority for the Corps of Engineers to operate the barrier and
authorize funding to cover the cost.

The Asian carp is feared because its voracious appetite could devastate the food
chain and sport- and commercial fishing if it should ever become established in
the Great Lakes. Originally brought in to control algae in southern fish farms
from which it escaped, these ?aquatic vacuum cleaners? can grow to several feet
in length and nearly 100 pounds.

?Our price tag for combating invasive species in the Great Lakes, such as the
sea lamprey and zebra mussel, is already millions of dollars a year,? said
Leslie Sgro, deputy director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
?It?s simply short-sighted not to make the relatively modest investment we need
to protect ourselves against this new invader, particularly with our $4.5
billion Great Lakes sport fishing industry at risk.?

The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal barrier consists of two units, a temporary
demonstration barrier and a more powerful permanent barrier that is partially
completed. The stopgap measure authorizes the Corps to take over operation of
the temporary barrier, but using funds originally designated for completion of
the permanent barrier. The Water Resources Development Act would authorize both
the completion of the more powerful barrier and permanent operation of both
that barrier and the demonstration barrier as additional protection.

The Senate legislation now goes to a conference committee to be reconciled with
the House supplemental bill, H.R. 4939, which did not include funding for the
barrier.

The Water Resources Development Act has been introduced in each of the last
three sessions of Congress, but has yet to be enacted.

Contact: Tom Crane, Great Lakes Commission, 734-971-9135, tcrane@glc.org


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