Asian Carp still a threat to Lake Michigan
By John Robbins Post-Tribune correspondent September 29, 2011 2:56PM
FILE - In a Feb. 9, 2010 file photo, two Asian carp are displayed on Capitol Hill in Washington, during a Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment hearing on preventing the induction of the carp, a aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes. Six attorneys general in the Great Lakes region on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011 called for a multi-state coalition that would push the federal government to protect the lakes from invasive species such as Asian carp by cutting off their artificial link to the Mississippi River basin, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
Updated: November 11, 2011 5:42PM
Lake Michigan and Northwest Indiana water quality issues were heard by the Environmental Quality Service Council, a permanent legislative study committee, Thursday morning at the offices of the Northern Indiana Regional Planning Commission in Portage.
First to address the council was John Goss, former head of Indiana’s National Wildlife Federation office who was appointed by President Barack Obama in September 2010 to lead the fight against the invasive Asian carp, the latest threat to the Great Lakes.
Goss made it clear that the Asian carp are in Indiana waters, “up to Huntington on the Wabash and Seymour on the White River and moving into Sugar Creek and the Blue River.” Traces of the Asian carp, though no live fish, have been found in Lake Calumet.
In describing the threat Goss said the carp “grow very fast and are like giant vacuum cleaners, sucking up the food supply and depriving native fish of their food. The goal is to keep them out of the Great Lakes,” said Goss.
Goss described efforts to date to restrict entry by the Asian carp to the Great Lakes. The carp were introduced in the southern U.S. in the 1970s and have been steadily making their way up the Mississippi ever since.
Goss said that “the spawning population in Illinois is about 150 miles from Lake Michigan.” Electric barriers placed along the Illinois River have kept the advance in check for 10 years.
Goss told the Council the Asian carp could invade the Great Lakes through another avenue in Indiana — the Eagle Marsh near Fort Wayne, which connects the Mississippi river basin with the Lake Erie basin. In a time of flooding, carp in Indiana could easily move across the watershed divide. Goss said four Asian carp have been found in Lake Erie.
Tom Easterly, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and member of the Council listed among the top concerns of the Great Lakes, invasive species, untreated sewage discharge, and contaminated river and lake sediment.
Easterly discussed dredging on the Grand Calumet River. Of five dredging projects, two, the Gary Reach and Junction Reach projects remain unfunded.
The West Branch projects 1 and 2 and NISPCO to State Line project are being performed for a total cost of $179,279,110, of which $61 million is the state share.
Easterly told the council about Indiana BeachsAlert, a mobile phone based application that can advise users about possible beach closings. According to Easterly, Jeorse Park Beach in East Chicago is Indiana’s worst public beach.
Easterly said there is, “still no understanding of the sources of e. coli,” which lead to beach closing.
“While there are some beach closings, Lake Michigan is generally quite clean.”