Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Feds, Great Lakes states and locals failing to find agreement on how to deal with Asian carp

Asian carp continue to threaten Great Lakes fisheries, and agreement about how to best control the invasive fish remains elusive, reports Monica Davey of The New York Times. Some states want to cut off access from the Mississippi River system, where the carp come from; others, including Illinois, say those closings would hinder Chicago's flood control and prevent barges from transporting sand, coal, cement and salt. Some say harping about the carp is slowing discussion about other pressing Great Lakes issues, such as pollution, harbor repair and wetlands restoration.

“This is what boggles the mind here: We can send a man to the moon but we can’t stop a carp from reaching the Great Lakes?” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette told Davey. Schuette is leading a lawsuit to make Chicago water authorities close locks between the Mississippi system and Lake Michigan. Four other states have signed onto the lawsuit, and 17 attorneys general from across the U.S. have signed a resolution urging Congress to force the Army Corps of Engineers to speed up a study of the carp issue, now set for completion in 2015.

Closing the locks could cost billions and take years, and lake advocates say it's a last resort, because it could cause flooding in the Chicago area. Some think the carp issue will draw attention to other matters, like a "remade, more attractive and cleaner Chicago River; a reinvented route for commercial barge products headed from or to the South; and long-needed fixes to the region’s flooding measures," Davey reports. (Read more)

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