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Eagle Marsh plan not part of carp study

A proposal for stopping the spread of Asian Carp at Eagle Marsh is not updated by the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study Report released Monday by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“The reason you don’t see it is the congressional authority that was created asked us specifically to look at the Chicago Waterway System,” David Wethington, project manager for GLMRIS, said during a conference call with reporters.

The report focuses on eight options for preventing the fish and other “aquatic nuisance species” from entering Lake Michigan at Chicago. One plan would cost $15.5 billion for a series of locks, reservoirs, electric barriers and water treatment plants. Another would run $18.4 billion for installing physical barriers in the watersheds of four cities, including Hammond, plus water treatment plants and reservoirs.

The GLIMRIS report neither prioritizes the proposals nor recommends a plan.

“I think that what stakeholders will do is look at those costs and look at those other perceived benefits and try and find that balance,” Wethington said. “It’s really difficult for us alone as the Corps of Engineers to answer that question since the responsibility for aquatic species control is really a shared responsibility.”

Eagle Marsh is among 18 other waterways in five states that pose a risk of transferring invasive species to the Great Lakes. Of those, Eagle Marsh has “the highest potential risk,” according to GLMRIS.

The marsh lies on the southwest edge of Fort Wayne near Interstate 69 and Fox Island County Park. It drains into both Lake Erie (through the Maumee River) and the Mississippi River (through the Little, Wabash and Ohio rivers).

The fear is that Eagle Marsh flooding could help carry Asian carp to Lake Erie. The fish – which can measure 7 feet long, weigh 100 pounds and compete with native fish for food – have been found 30 miles southwest of Eagle Marsh in the Wabash.

A proposal to raise one berm along the Graham-McCullock Ditch while lowering another is preferred by Eagle Marsh stakeholders, according to a GLMRIS newsletter issued in November. Stakeholders include the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Little Rivers Wetland Project.

GLMRIS has said construction might begin this summer. The project is expected to cost several million dollars.

The GLMRIS report requires congressional authorization and a series of public, peer and legal reviews. Public meetings are scheduled this month in seven cities. The nearest to Fort Wayne are Thursday at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Jan. 21 at the University of Michigan League in Ann Arbor, Mich. Each meeting is from 4 to 7 p.m.

The Chicago and Ann Arbor meetings will offer Internet access. The Chicago webinar is at emsp.intellor.com/login/414088 and the access ID is c3lrc02p1. The Ann Arbor webinar details have yet to be announced.

The Army Corps will accept public comments on the report by mail through March 3.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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