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Senators press for carp-control measures

Fifteen U.S. senators representing the eight Great Lakes states are calling on the White House to take “urgent action” to halt the spread of Asian carp and other invasive species in U.S. waterways, particularly around Chicago.

The senators, led by Sens. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and including Sens. Dan Coats, R-Ind., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, announced Thursday they have sent a letter expressing their concerns to John Goss, Asian carp director for the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

The senators ask Goss “to help guide a productive dialogue among all impacted stakeholders that includes a focus on practical, immediate solutions with broad support across all impacted stakeholders” along the Chicago Area Waterway System.

They urge Goss to “make recommendations as soon as possible, in particular regarding the short- and medium-term technologically feasible actions that maintain commercial navigation and recreational boating, preserve the integrity of existing flood control systems, protect water quality, and enjoy broad support.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued eight proposals for trying to stop the spread of Asian carp through Chicago waterways to Lake Michigan. The projects include building locks, gates and reservoirs or separating waterways, and the construction costs range as high as $18.4 billion.

An Army Corps spokeswoman told The Journal Gazette in May that “no clear consensus has been reached” during a series of public meetings on the Chicago proposals.

“While disagreements about prevention measures remain, the Asian carp threat persists, and urgent action is needed,” the senators wrote in their letter. “The immediate path forward should include a set of short- and medium-term actions, which should be able to garner regional consensus more readily to strengthen protection for the Great Lakes.”

The Army Corps also plans to rebuild a ditch berm in Eagle Marsh southwest of Fort Wayne in an effort to keep Asian carp from reaching Lake Erie.