Too much at stake for delays in Asian carp study

A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers is urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop delaying an important study on upgrading a key waterway choke point is a way of keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

Some 26 members of the U.S. House of Representatives — including U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet — signed a letter dated Dec. 7, imploring the corps to move forward with the study, maintaining that any additional delays will only increase the likelihood that the voracious species will reach the Great Lakes. The lawmakers say they want the Army Corps to stick to its original timeline for completing the Chief of Engineers report by February 2019, the Detroit News reported.

“Asian carp are on the doorstep of the Great Lakes system, and we have a small but critical window of opportunity to stop them there,” the letter stated. “Once they are in the lakes it will be too late.”

Last August, the U.S. Army Corps in early August published its $275 million plan to control the carp by installing a new electric barrier to repel or stun the destructive fish and underwater speakers generating noise to deter them from traveling beyond the lock and dam at Brandon Road near Joliet, Illinois, the News stated. The Army Corps initially planned to collect public feedback for 45 days but had twice extended that deadline, so the comment period closed Friday.

Construction will take years, if everything falls into place. And at this writing, it’s completely unclear even when work could start. Meanwhile, the Asian carp edge closer and closer to fresh water.

All of this is taking much too long, given what’s at stake. The Army Corps, which has a history of moving at a glacial pace, seems to be moving even slower on this one.

It’s time someone — anyone — work to cut the red tape and get this project moving.

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