2014 Briefing Recap: Army Corps’ Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study Findings

On Wednesday, January 8, 2014, the NEMWI coordinated a briefing on the Great Lakes-Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS), focused on prevention of Asian Carp and other aquatic nuisance species transfer between the two megabasins. The report was released on January 6, 2014.  Congress authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to undertake the GLMRIS study in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, and provided additional focus and an accelerated timeline in the Surface Transportation Bill of 2012, MAP-21. The report arrays eight alternatives with conceptual costs and no priority ranking. Of the eight alternatives, six involve structural options that incorporate new proposed technologies, including the GLMRIS Lock and treatment plants to remove aquatic nuisance species from the water (ANS Treatment Plants). The other two alternatives include a no new action scenario in which current invasive species actions are maintained, and a non-structural alternative, using such options as monitoring and education. Of the six structural alternatives, two include technology to create control points within the system, minimalizing impact to navigation; two involve hydrological separation and mitigation measures for the resulting impacts on water quality and flooding; and two involve a combination of separation and technology. The Corps also noted that additional considerations, such as residual risks of invasive species entering the lakes through other non-aquatic pathways, could impact the success of the proposed alternatives. All of the alternatives would involve participation and actions of partners and jurisdictions outside of the Corps.  An NEMWI summary of the report and some key findings, as well as a chart for comparing the costs, proposed activities, and impacts on the threat of invasive species is available by emailing Danielle Chesky.

Great Lakes Task Force Co-Chairs, Sens. Carl Levin (MI) and Mark Kirk (IL) and Reps. Candice Miller (MI-10), John Dingell (MI-12), Sean Duffy (WI-07), and Louise Slaughter (NY-25), served as honorary co-sponsors of the NEMWI briefing.  Col. Frederic Drummond, Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District, and Dave Wethington, GLMRIS Project Manager, presented at the briefing providing background on the study, its process, and results, and highlighting the shared responsibility of implementing any of the alternative options. Next steps for the GLMRIS report include public meetings within the Great Lakes and Mississippi River regions, as well as an open comment period through March 3, 2014. Mr. Wethington noted the Corps stands ready to facilitate a conversation about the alternatives and future direction with stakeholders, partners, Congress, other decision-makers and non-federal sponsors.