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Carp control plan needs study, says Lt. Gov.

Another proposed step to prevent Asian carp in the Illinois River from invading the Great Lakes needs a careful look, Illinois Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti said Monday morning aboard the twin-screw tugboat “Windy City” while it plied the Illinois River at Ottawa.

In July, the Army Corps of Engineers released a new carp control system that would be installed at the Brandon Roads Lock and Dam on the Des Plaines River in Joliet. It would combine an electric barrier, complex noise, water jets and other features to create an additional barrier in blocking the carp.

There is universal agreement that a carp invasion of the Great Lakes would be a catastrophe. But Sanguinetti, the head of the Illinois River Coordinating Council, questions whether the proposed approach is correct.

“We need to balance all interests concerned,” she told The Times. “We need to look at the taxpayer, and we need to take a look at industry and the environment.”

Of the $300 million cost of the installation the state is being asked to put up $90 million, she said,  and then pay $10 million annually in maintenance expenses.

She argued the project is a Great Lakes area concern, and suggested costs should be covered by federal government.

She cited the state’s financial problems.

“Here in Illinois we are pinching our pennies,” she said. "The money issue is big."

Sanguinetti also questioned whether there has been sufficient examination of the impact on river commerce.

A choke-point for carp could create a bottleneck for river traffic with spillover effects on roadways that have not fully been studied, she said.

“We say let’s keep working at that,” Wilkins said. “We too want to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species. We get that — we’re all about that. But let’s be rational and logical about our solutions. Let’s find a balanced solution — not overreacting one way or another.”

Sanguinetti is coordinating the state’s response to the Brandon Roads Lock and Dam proposal, which is due Thursday.

She said the corps has been willing to hear the state’s concerns.

“I do have to say in fairness to the Army Corps of Engineers they did start listening,”Sanguinetti said. “I just wish they would have started listening to all the interests a little sooner.”

— To view the project proposal visit glmris.anl.gov/brandon-rd/.

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