Fact Sheet

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USACE Report Underscores Need for Alternative, Long-Term Solutions

Background:
The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to conduct a study of a range of options or technologies for reducing the potential spread of Asian carp past existing electric barriers on the Illinois River. In order to provide timely and relevant information, USACE has released three interim reports ahead of their final report. The most recent report, Interim Report III, outlines a process through which USACE may temporarily pursue intermittent lock closure in support of Asian carp control and research activities. The report does not outline a regular schedule for such closure, nor does it suggest closing the locks would decrease the likelihood of Asian carp reaching the Great Lakes.

The Numbers: Increased Transportation Costs Resulting from Lock Closure: Direct Opportunity Costs from Temporary Closure:

$150 million annually $54,000 daily

The Facts: 
The USACE do not currently plan to engage in regularly scheduled lock closures. Instead, USACE outlines a process by which intermittent lock closures could be pursued to support additional control measures. Further information is needed however to justify such closures.

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According to USACE¶s own estimates, ³costs spread across affected entities could cost up to approximately $54,000 per day, taking into account fixed costs, lost sales of fuel and lost wages.´
(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Dispersal Barrier Efficacy Study, p. 68 http://www.lrc.usace.army.mil/pao/02June2010_InterimIII.pdf.)

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These costs do not account for the secondary economic impacts of temporary closure, such as plant shutdowns, lost wages for plant employees, and reductions in spending or capital investment. 

According to an expert panel convened by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), closing the locks located on the Chicago Area Waterways System (CAWS) does not reduce the risk of Asian carp establishing a sustainable population in the Great Lakes. y The Risk Assessment Panel formed in February of 2010 found that the risk of Asian carp establishing a sustainable population in the Great Lakes was the same under all 6 modified lock operation proposals being considered by USACE. The report states that, ³of the six alternatives presented by the Corps, there is no individual or combination of lock operation scenarios that experts believe will lower risk of Asian carps establishing selfsustaining populations in Lake Michigan to an acceptable level.´
(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Dispersal Barrier Efficacy Study, p. 25 http://www.lrc.usace.army.mil/pao/02June2010_InterimIII.pdf.)

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This report confirms lock operations are not a solution to the problem and are diverting focus from more effective, alternative barriers. 

USACE findings estimate the locks provide nearly $150 million dollars annually in direct traffic and rate savings to commercial shippers, government vessel operators and the general public. 

The Interim III report confirms that the USACE does not have authority to engage in extended lock closure under existing ³emergency powers.´  The report confirms preliminary eDNA evidence is insufficient to indicate the presence of Asian carp stating, ³USACE cannot conclude that water samples testing positive for eDNA evidence confirms the presence of Asian carp.´ (U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, Dispersal Barrier Efficacy Study, p. 22 http://www.lrc.usace.army.mil/pao/02June2010_InterimIII.pdf.)

The Next Steps:
The USACE interim report, in conjunction with the USFWS Risk Assessment Panel, demonstrates the need for alternative solutions to dealing with the spread of Asian carp. For too long lock closure has distracted stakeholders from pursuing effective alternatives that preserve waterway commerce. The CAWS provides clear economic, public safety, and environmental benefits to the communities it serves. Continued focus on hydrological separation is problematic. It¶s time for politicians to stop grandstanding and focus on viable, long term solutions.