Corps’ plan to take another four years to complete Asian carp study is an outrage

NWF   |   January 26, 2011

What would you consider an aggressive time-frame for completing a study of how to keep Asian carp in the Mississippi River system from invading the Great Lakes?

One year, perhaps two.

How about eight years?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is studying how best to break the artificial connections between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins that could allow Asian carp to invade the  lakes, won’t complete its study until 2015.

Corps officials have said another four years to complete its Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study, known as GLMRIS, constitutes an “aggressive” schedule. What’s rarely noted is that Congress authorized the Corps to conduct the GLMRIS study in 2007.

In other words, the Corps will complete the GLMRIS study eight years after Congress authorized it as part of an expanded effort to keep Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan via the Chicago Waterway System. It will likely take s several more years after the GLMRIS study is complete for the Corps to implement a solution.

It’s not a stretch to say that it could be 2020 before the Corps takes action to create a hydrological barrier between Lake Michigan and the Chicago Waterway System, the manmade aquatic pipeline that links the Great Lakes to  the Mississippi River system.

Yet, Corps officials are traveling around the region telling people that the agency’s timetable for completing the GLMRIS study is “quite aggressive.”

Please, don’t insult our intelligence.

A similar,  privately funded study commissioned by the Great Lakes Commission and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative will take one year to figure out how best to create a hydrological barrier between Lake Michigan and the Chicago Waterway System. And the Great Lakes Commission’s study will cost just $2 million.

The Corps will spend $15 million on the Chicago portion of the GLMRIS study; the entire study will cost $25 million.

Let’s break this down: The Chicago portion of the Corps’ GLMRIS study will cost seven times more than a similar, privately funded study and take four times longer to complete.

Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

If you’re concerned about Asian carp invading the Great Lakes, now is the time to demand that the Corps speed up its study. Here’s how. People across the region are demanding that the Corps move faster to prevent an Asian carp invasion. Go here to hear what they are saying.

We need as many people as possible to tell the Corps to pick up the pace and at least complete the Chicago portion of the GLMRIS study by mid-2012.