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Study offers ways to prevent spread of invasive species

Updated: January 7, 2014 8:28AM



The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a report Monday highlighting eight options to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species through the Chicago Area waterway system.

Each option varies in timeline and effectiveness in stopping the movement of invasive species between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes.

The alternative choices range from no additional federal actions to creating physical barriers along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

The study identified potential species that could be prevented from spreading, like silver and bighead carp moving into the Great Lakes, and bloody red shrimp, fishhook waterfleas, and tubenose gobies moving into the Mississippi River basin.

Army Corps Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study project manager Dave Wethington said each alternative provides varying level of control, but no one plan can guarantee a complete stop.

“These technologies can help address species that swim or float through, but those species that are transferred by humans or other species we wouldn’t be able to prevent.”

Of the eight options, six provide open access through the waterway, said project manager Dave Wethington.

The Army Corps study also offer a structural lock concept that would flush out water in a lock gate. The ship would travel into the lock, and treated water would be pumped in as unfiltered water is sucked out.

UV light and sand filters would treat the water to prevent small species from transferring. The locks would still allow ships to move through the waterway.

Costs of the plans range up to $18.4 billion, and plans can take between 10 and 25 years to implement.

Wethington said the plan timelines are based on both the required construction and any environmental studies to prevent flooding or damage. Whether the infrastructure would be built in time is unknown.

“We could achieve a hydrological separation,” Wethington said, “but would it be with enough time? That guess is a good as anybody else.”

Congress will have the power to authorize which plan could move forward. Wethington said The Army Corps did not recommend any of the eight plans, saying one agency should not be in charge of such an important decision.

The full report is available online at http://glmris.anl.gov/glmris-report/index.cfm. Public comment on the report is open until March 2.



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