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Asian carp closing in on Lake Michigan

September 20, 2009 at 05:15 PM

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says DNA testing indicates there are Asian carp within one mile of the electric barrier at Romeoville.

Here’s the Corps official release.

DNA testing indicates Asian carp presence less than one mile from electric barriers

CHICAGO—As part of its ongoing Asian carp monitoring program, the Army Corps of Engineers is continuing to work with the University of Notre Dame to use eDNA genetic testing of water samples to monitor the presence of bighead and silver carp in the Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Des Plaines River, and the I&M Canal.

On Sept. 16, 2009, the university notified the Corps of Engineers that six of 99 water samples taken from the area between the Lockport Lock and the electric barriers tested positive for the presence of silver carp. The northernmost of the positive samples was from an area less than one mile south of the electric barriers. Other recent eDNA results indicate the likely presence of Asian carp in the Des Plaines River north of the barriers and near the confluence of the Des Plaines River and the I&M Canal.

There are no Asian carp north of the barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. All results from samples taken in the canal north of the electric barrier have been negative. Additional information about the recent sampling efforts is available on the Army Corps’ website at

“The Army Corps does not intend to alter the operating parameters of the barriers based on this new sampling information,” said Col. Vincent Quarles, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District. “We are confident that the barriers are now operating at the optimal setting needed to deter both adult and juvenile fish.”

The electric barrier system in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal reduces the risk of Asian carp migrating into the Great Lakes along the most direct pathway, but other pathways do exist and need to be addressed.

The Des Plaines River is one such known potential by-pass to the electric barrier. In the event of heavy rainfall, it is possible for water from the Des Plaines to overflow into the Sanitary and Ship Canal north of the barrier location. This can potentially transfer nuisance species into the canal.

“The Corps of Engineers is already investigating potential by-passes to the barrier system, and as part of that study will work closely with our federal, state and local partners to identify workable solutions and develop conceptual designs,” Quarles said. “At this time we don’t have any authority that would allow us to construct any preventive measures, but we are continuing to investigate other options within existing Corps authorities.”


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