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Fed's abandon funding to thwart Asian Carp invasion of Great Lakes

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posted on Nov, 12 2005 @ 03:02 PM

High cost may close Asian-carp barriers

CHICAGO, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- High electricity cost may force the closure of two barriers that keep the gluttonous Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, reports the Chicago Tribune.

In Washington, a House-Senate budget committee decided this week not to pay the $1 million needed to keep the electrical barriers operating in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The barriers are the last line of defense between Lake Michigan and the carp-infested Illinois River, the Tribune reported.

Asian carp eat up 40 percent of their body weight each day, mostly by straining out tiny organisms that are part of the food chain for sport fish such as bass and walleye.

Without new funding, the Army Corps of Engineers will not be able to operate the barriers after next May. At that point, the state may be forced to pick up the tab.

"This should be a federal responsibility," said Mike Conlin, director of resource conservation at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. "These barriers are in place to protect all of the Great Lakes, not just the Illinois portion of Lake Michigan."

What's the big deal, you say?

Even the EPA acknowledges the serious threat involved with the introduction of Asian carp into the Great Lakes water system:

Asian Carp and the Great Lakes

Asian carp have been found in the Illinois River, which connects the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan. Due to their large size and rapid rate of reproduction, these fish could pose a significant risk to the Great Lakes Ecosystem.
To prevent the carp from entering the Great Lakes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. EPA, the State of Illinois, the International Joint Commission, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working together to install and maintain a permanent electric barrier between the fish and Lake Michigan.

How did Asian carp get so close to the Great Lakes?

Two species of Asian carp -- the bighead and silver -- were imported by catfish farmers in the 1970's to remove algae and suspended matter out of their ponds. During large floods in the early 1990s, many of the catfish farm ponds overflowed their banks, and the Asian carp were released into local waterways in the Mississippi River basin.

The EPA further indicates:

Federal and state agencies completed construction of an electrical fish barrier as a demonstration project to study the effectiveness of preventing species migration between the River and the Lake. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the temporary electronic dispersal barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Romeoville, Illinois, at a cost of approximately $2.2 million. It was activated in April, 2002...

In late October 2004, construction will begin on a second, more permanent barrier. The new barrier, scheduled to be completed in February 2005, stretches two rows of electrodes across the canal approximately 220 feet apart. The electrodes pulse DC current into the water, causing fish will turn back rather than pass through the electric current. The electric current poses no threat to people.

Changes to the design will provide a stronger, more consistent electric field in the new barrier. A second control house will also be constructed, so that two sets of electrodes -- primary and backup -- can be operated simultaneously. These changes will prevent fish from being swept through by ship turbulence.

The cost of this permanent barrier is $9.1 million. These funds are 75% federal and 25% non-federal. The State of Illinois has committed $1.7 for the non-federal share.

Looks like those plans are scrapped now- at least where the feds are concerned. They apparently believe the Great Lakes are not important enough to protect and that it really is a state's problem anyway.

We are talking about only a few million dollars, right? What will be the real cost if nothing is done?!


I grow very tired of this state vs. federal responsibility issue. It is clear to me that this argument is only ever raised by the federal government when it happens to coincide with its interest, and not necessarily the best interest of the nation's citizenry, or that of people elsewhere in the world.

Give me a break.

[edit on 12-11-2005 by loam]

posted on Nov, 12 2005 @ 03:23 PM
Wow that hardly any money at all when we are talking about the federal government :shk:

But the states should step in and pick up the tab if the federal money is not avalible IMHO. Its not right but you have to do what you have to do.

posted on Nov, 12 2005 @ 03:50 PM

Originally posted by FredT
Wow that hardly any money at all when we are talking about the federal government :shk:

I agree 100%, its seems like a no brainier. Even if the state has to pay for it. The whole ecobalance(made up word?) can be thrown off in this area.

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