The newly appointed Asian Carp czar was in Cleveland on Thursday to explain and defend the federal government's strategy to keep the invasive menace of Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes. John Goss said during a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers meeting that the 80 million dollar plan is to bring a multitude of agencies together to study the various ways that the voracious carp can be kept from advancing into the Great Lakes. "The Obama administration is very concerned about the Asian carp and determined to make sure they do not become established in the Great Lakes." said Goss. He says that while they have short term strategies in place to keep the carp at bay, they recognize that the carp is advancing quickly having already made it as far as Fort Wayne, via the Wabash River and into the Ohio River and some tributaries in Ohio. There are also concerns that the fish could enter the Great Lakes if the waters of the Wabash and the nearby Maumee should mix in an area known as Eagle Marsh in Indiana. This past fall, the Indiana Department of Natural Resouirces completed a fence across the marsh to keep the Asian carp from entering the Maumee headwaters in the event of a water exchange on the floodplain.
Critics insist that much more needs to be done urgently to separate the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River Basin which has already been overrun by the giant leaping fish. Four states have filed a joint lawsuit to close the sanitary canal system around Chicago which currently links the Mississippi with the Great Lakes. Goss says doing so, is not that easy and there are many other considerations, including an impact on shipping and a retooling of the many canals and locks in the system. Goss also tells NBC 24 that "just closing the locks would create a problem for storm water runoff." He says downtown Chicago relies on storm water runoff to avoid floods and it will take engineering studies to determine how best to deal with a closure of the locks and drainage from downtown Chicago. The meeting in Cleveland by the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers is one of a series of meetings being held to get public input in the plans to separate the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River basin to help stop all invasive species from establishing a foothold in the Great Lakes. The Army Corps currently maintians a controversial electric barrier in the canal to stun the fish as they make they way towards Lake Michigan. However DNA evidence has surfaced that over 50 times, the carp have been found beyond the fence, leading to increased concerns that it may be just a matter of years before the fish find they way into the Great Lakes in more abundant numbers. if that were too happen, it's feared that much of the food chain and native fish in the Great Lakes could be wiped out.