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Congress Mulls Over Proposed Legislation to Stop Advance of Asian Carp in Great Lakes

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With an aggressive Asian carp population growing, the Great Lakes is in danger. To curb the danger of prized fish stocks getting depleted, members of congress on Friday called for river fortifications as a temporary solution.

According to bills introduced in the House and Senate, government agencies will be required to focus their efforts on the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Illinois as more permanent remedies against the advancement of Asian carp from the Mississippi River system to the Great Lakes are debated.

Rep. Dave Camp from Michigan sponsored the bill while Sen. Debbie Stabenow introduced it in the Senate.

"After years of study, we must begin making tangible progress to safeguard the Great Lakes ecosystem and the $7 billion economy it supports," explained Camp.

The target site is located around 5 miles downstream of a series of electrical barriers installed in a shipping canal. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rely on these barriers to keep two Asian carp species out, preventing them from making their way to Lake Michigan. Should the carp species reach the lake, they would starve native fish. From there, they can get to other lakes, causing more widespread damage.

As a choke point, Brandon Road is where the carp's advancement can be blocked. According to the corps, they have plans of adding extra electric barriers while testing out new technologies in the area, like air cannons and special gates, as well as a possible new lock that could let treated water pass through to clean out fish eggs, spores and floating plants.

According to Great Lakes Commission vice chairman and Michigan Office of the Great Lakes director Jon Allan, the bills represent important work and will lead to the development of solutions that will be of use to anywhere on Chicago's waterway system, preventing aggressive Asian carp species from venturing into other bodies of water and growing their population.

The Great Lakes Commission represents eight states plus two Canadian provinces surrounding the Great Lakes. It also endorsed the bills, saying the recommended changes will not disrupt recreational boat and barge traffic on the waterway.

For the most part, the region's states are divided when it comes to solutions against the carp problem, with most of them favoring the use of dams and other structures to protect the Great Lakes from the Mississippi drainage basin. India and Illinois, however, contend that doing so will not only damage local economies but cause flooding as well.

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