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Report focuses on Illinois dam to keep invasive carp from Great Lakes

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Asian carp
Carp jump out of the water in Illinois after being disturbed by the sounds of watercraft.
Nerissa Michaels | AP file via Detroit Free Press

A long-awaited federal report recommends using methods including noise, electricity, water jets and other methods to keep invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers'488-page study focuses on the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Ill. It's considered a key bottleneck in the effort to prevent Asian carp from moving upstream from the Mississippi River watershed into the Great Lakes basin.

The Corps of Engineers studied six alternatives and recommended a combination, including installing an electric barrier and a system that uses "complex noise" as a deterrent. 

It also suggests installing water jets to remove any fish that get trapped in the crevices of barges moving through the locks. 

Drew YoungeDyke, a National Wildlife Federation spokesperso, called the report promising.

"What they're looking at is using a combination of different technologies rather than each one on their own," YoungeDyke said. "It's almost like they're making them run the gauntlet before they can even get to Brandon Road."

Scientists believe that if Asian carp spread to the Great Lakes, they could compete with native species and wreak havoc on the fishing industry.

The study was scheduled to be released in February but was delayed by the Trump administration, which drew criticism from environmental groups.

Molly Flanagan, vice president of policy at the Alliance for the Great Lakes, said it's critical to get started on adopting the plan. In June, a live silver carp was found in a Chicago waterway just nine miles from Lake Michigan.

"This really is an urgent situation, and one where we need to be doing more to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes," Flanagan said.

Environmental groups say it's also important to come up with two-way solutions for keeping invasive species from moving downstream into the Mississippi River watershed. 

Building the barriers would cost an estimated $275 million. Congressional funding would be needed for construction, which the report says could be completed in 2025.

The public has until Sept. 21 to comment on the report. A final version is scheduled for August 2019.