Michigan and Illinois Join Forces to Battle Asian Carp

When Asian Carp invade a waterway, it’s the aquatic equivalent of locusts.

The governors of Illinois and Michigan announced that they will work cooperatively to protect the Great Lakes from invasive Asian Carp. The joint effort is focused on the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in the Chicago Area Waterway System near Joliet, Ill., which is considered a critical point for keeping bighead, silver and black carp — the invasive Asian carp species of greatest concern — out of Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes.

Multimillion Dollar Effort

Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Governor JB Pritzker of Illinois announced an intergovernmental agreement between the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. It gives Illinois permission to use up to $8 million in funds appropriated in 2018 by the Michigan legislature to support the preconstruction engineering and design phase of the Brandon Road Ecosystem Project.

The Brandon Road Lock and Dam is 27 miles from Chicago on the Des Plaines River.

Illinois signed a separate agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the initial Brandon Road design. The state will serve as the non-federal sponsor, agreeing to help fund the design of a portion of the project and to further advance full project design efforts to approximately 30% completion.

This image shows the channel that was developed to keep the carp at bay.

High-Tech Challenge

The Brandon Road Project will install layered technologies including an electric barrier, underwater sound, an air bubble curtain and a flushing lock in a newly engineered channel designed to prevent carp movement while still allowing vessel traffic.

Bighead carp can grow as large as 5’ and are voracious predators on native fish.

Silver carp are best known for randomly jumping out of the water when boats go by.

Asian carp were originally introduced in the southern United States as a way to deal with algae and to clean the waters in fish farms in the 1970s. Bighead and silver carp escaped the farms during a flood and they made their way to the Mississippi River basin. They have been steadily making their way north ever since.  The migration of bighead, silver or black carp to the Great Lakes could impact the region’s $7 billion fishery, $16 billion boating and tourism industries and others who rely on the waterway and its tributaries.