Ontario joins as member of new Great Lakes partnership to block Asian carp

ONTARIO—Last week, the province of Ontario joined a new Great Lakes Basin partnership to block Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes. Ontario is joining Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin in this basin partnership.

Water Canada reported that the partnership will commit strategic and financial resources to support the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP) and offer a combination of solutions to reduce the risk of invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said in a release, “Asian carp pose a very real and serious threat to our waterways. Partnering with Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin on the Brandon Road Lock and Dam project will build on our long-standing efforts to protect the Great Lakes against aquatic invasions and I look forward to continuing to work together to ensure our shared waterways and their ecosystems remain healthy

and resilient.”

An official statement from the province of Ontario provided by Yolanta Kowalski of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) says, “on January 31 Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced the creation of the Great Lakes Basin Partnership, with initial participation by Michigan, Ontario, Wisconsin and Ohio. The immediate goal of the partnership is to bring together the Great Lakes states and provinces to prevent the introduction of Asian carp to the Great Lakes. The partners support the timely implementation of the tentatively selected plan identified by the USACE to modify the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois, to block the movement of aquatic invasive species. The lock and dam will represent a key barrier for preventing an invasion of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.”

“The partnership announced by Governor Snyder will go a long way in preventing the invasion of Asian carp,” the Ontario release notes. “Ontario supports in principle the actions proposed by Governor Snyder. Ontario is pleased to continue working in collaboration with the Conference of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence governors and premiers, the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee and through our sustained partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to prevent invasive species threats in the Great Lakes.”

In making the announcement, Governor Snyder said, “Michigan is stepping up to take a leadership role due to the urgency of this situation and the efforts necessary to prevent the entry of Asian carp into the Great Lakes. No single state, province or government jurisdiction should have to bear the sole responsibility of keeping invasive carp out of the Great Lakes.”

The USACE has indicated it could begin construction on a $275 million federally-funded invasive carp barrier improvement project in 2022 at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam with the system becoming operational by 2025. The plan incorporates a list of technologies, including an engineered approach channel that could serve as a national test model for invasive species monitoring and control, water jets to sweep out fish caught between barges, a flushing lock to eliminate fish eggs, larvae or floaters from going upstream toward the Great Lakes Basin, complex noise systems to keep fish out of the channel and state-of-the-art electric barriers at the lock’s entrances.

Governor Snyder indicated the multi-state collaboration could remove one obstacle by providing funds required to supplement federal outlays. In particular, the USACE want partners outside the US federal government to pay about $8 million a year for operation and maintenance once the system is up and running. Under the proposal coalition members would share those costs for five years while seeking other long-term sources.