The governors of Illinois and Michigan have agreed to work jointly to protect the Great Lakes from invasive Asian carp species and it starts at the Brandon Road Lock and Damn. The intergovernmental agreement between the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) will allows Illinois to use up to $8 million in funds from the Michigan Legislature to support the pre-construction engineering and design phase of the Brandon Road Ecosystem Project. The State of Illinois also 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 design of a portion of the project and to further advance full project design efforts to approximately 30 percent completion.
The Brandon Road Lock and Dam is a critical pinch point for keeping bighead, silver and black carp – the invasive Asian carp species of greatest concern – out of the Great Lakes. The Brandon Road project would 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 invasive carp movement while allowing barge passage. The agreement stipulates Illinois cover 35 percent, of the projected costs. With Michigan’s $8 million financial commitment through the intergovernmental agreement, IDNR will contribute the remaining $2.5 million to complete the project. It is predicted that the arrival of live bighead, silver or black carp in the Great Lakes could have drastic effects on the region’s $7 billion fishery, $16 billion boating industry and other tourism-based industries, property owners, recreationalists and others dependent on the Great Lakes.
An electric dispersal barrier installed in the waterway near Romeoville, Illinois in 2002 to prevent invasive species from moving into and out of the Great Lakes has since been supplemented by two additional electric barriers in the same location. A fourth more powerful barrier at the Romeoville site is expected to be operational in 2021. As the Brandon Road project moves forward, current efforts will continue, including the electric barriers near Romeoville and expanded nonstructural measures, including focused commercial fishing, monitoring and prescribed netting to reduce the risk of spawning or of small fish movement through the existing lock and dam.