Report offers Congress alternatives to corral Asian carp and other aquatic nuisance speciesJanuary 8, 2014
Editor's note: Argonne’s Environmental Science Division has been working with the Chicago District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) to determine the risks that aquatic nuisance species, such as Asian carp, will move between the two basins through aquatic pathways.
GLMRIS also evaluated the feasibility of implementing various technologies or controls to prevent or reduce interbasin transfer of species via the Chicago Area Waterway System, considered to be the most likely pathway for exchange. Argonne's work on GLMRIS was led by Project Manager John Hayse and supported by researchers Mark Grippo and Ihor Hlohowskyj.
The following news release was issued on Jan. 6, 2014, by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The GLMRIS Report was authorized by Section 3061(d) of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (WRDA 2007), and modified by Section 1538 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), directing the Corps to look at a comprehensive range of options and technologies available to prevent the inter-basin transfer of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins through aquatic pathways.
The report contains eight alternatives, each with concept-level design and cost information, and evaluates the potential of these alternatives to prevent, to the maximum extent possible, the spread of 13 ANS, to include Asian carp. The options concentrate on the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) and include a wide spectrum of alternatives ranging from continuing current activities to complete separation of the watersheds. The CAWS is a complex, multi-use waterway and is the primary direct, continuous inter-basin connection between the Mississippi River Basin and Lake Michigan. Each alternative includes mitigation measures evaluated for potential impacts to water quality, flood-risk management, natural resources and navigation. Eighteen locations outside of the CAWS were also identified for potential intermittent connections during flood events.
"It is my expectation that the GLMRIS Report will provide valuable information for decision-makers, including insights regarding available options to control ANS of concern as well as the identification of potential impacts that alternatives may have on existing uses and users of the waterways,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy.
“This report is unique because it identifies a range of options, allows for the incorporation of future technologies, and presents courses of action that may be incorporated now to reduce short-term risk,” said Corps Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Commander Brig. Gen. Margaret W. Burcham. “ANS prevention is a shared responsibility, and continued engagement will be an essential next step to try to identify and build consensus toward a collaborative path forward.”
The Corps will host public meetings in Chicago, Cleveland, Ann Arbor, Traverse City, St. Paul, St. Louis and Milwaukee in January to discuss the contents of the report and allow for public comment. To view the report, summary book and details on the public meetings or to make an online comment, visit the GLMRIS website at glmris.anl.gov. Comments will be accepted until 30 days following the last public meeting, or by March 3, 2014. The comments solicited will be collected for the administrative record.
The alternatives presented in the report range from continuing current efforts to hydrologic separation with physical barriers. Although the report is not a decision document, it contains design and cost information at the 5 percent design level and includes an evaluation matrix of the alternatives to provide as much detail for decision makers as possible. Several actions would need to be completed prior to the recommendation of any specific alternative for implementation, including further site-specific design analyses, model certification, detailed evaluations of impacts and mitigation requirements, completion of an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act and submission of the report for independent external peer review.
Throughout the GLMRIS development process, the Corps released numerous interim documents to keep the public informed and to gather input. The Corps also worked extensively with inter-agency partners to get input from federal and bi-national agencies, tribal agencies, and state and territorial regulatory agencies to ensure study intent was met.
In addition to GLMRIS, the Corps continues to vigilantly address the issues of invasive species by participating in the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, extensively monitoring the CAWS and conducting research with our partners and operating the electric barriers.