Corps Of Engineers Takes Proactive Approach To Stop Asian Carp In Mississippi River
Wisconsin Public Radio, 8/31/2017
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is updating procedures at a lock and dam on the upper Mississippi River to stop the spread of Asian carp.
Previous methods for operating spillway gates at Lock and Dam 8 in Genoa created variations in the flow of water through the dam, allowing the invasive species to swim through places with a slower current.
Nan Bischoff, project manager for USACE's St. Paul district, said researchers from the University of Minnesota helped USACE identify these imbalances and adjust the way they use the gates.
"By rebalancing how we are passing flows, we do eliminate those areas where the Asian carp can get through," Bischoff said.
So far, Asian carp have taken over the Mississippi River through parts of Iowa, about 100 miles south of Lock and Dam 8.
"We're one of the few places in the Mississippi River basin that isn't burdened with these animals," said Peter Sorensen, professor at the University of Minnesota who lead the research team. "We should recognize that and let's do something while we have the chance."
He said the new procedures come at a low cost to USACE, but will have long-term benefits in proactively responding to the threat of Asian carp.
"Acting after the fact is just frankly absurd. Scientifically, the challenge is so enormous (in addition to) the cost, that now is the time to act," Sorensen said.
Sorensen is also working with USACE to use low-frequency noises in the water to deter Asian carp from passing through the navigational lock.
"Those technologies could be deployed in Illinois or the Great Lakes," Sorensen said. "The idea is to not replicate each other's actions but to share this information (to) work together and move ahead."
Bischoff said USACE is looking at implementing similar changes at other locks in the St. Paul district, starting with Lock and Dam 5 near Fountain City.