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Army Corps will start new barrier

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will activate a new electric barrier, known as Barrier IIA, in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Lockport tomorrow, April 8.

That's the barrier designed to keep Asian carp from spreading toward the Great Lakes.

Here's the complete release from the Corps.

Army Corps announces activation of new electric barrier

CHICAGO - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today that it will
activate on April 8th a new electric barrier, known as Barrier IIA, in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Lockport, Ill.

The Army Corps has been operating a similar demonstration barrier in the Sanitary and Ship Canal since 2002. Both Barrier IIA and the demonstration barrier will operate at the same time to provide redundant back up. Both will operate at a field strength of one-volt per inch. The purpose of the barriers is to block the passage of aquatic nuisance species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. Currently, the greatest concern is preventing Asian carp from moving into the Great Lakes.

Chicago District Commander, Col. Vincent V. Quarles, hailed the activation of Barrier IIA as a significant step forward in halting the spread of invasive species via the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. He cautioned,however, that much more work remains to be done.

"The barriers are not a panacea," Quarles said. "They serve to plug the biggest hole, but much more work needs to be done and we all need to start looking at options for blocking other pathways."

Although Barrier IIA was designed to be able to operate at levels higher than one-volt per inch, the barrier has not yet undergone safety testing at higher levels. The Army Corps is working with the Coast Guard and marine industry waterway users to complete higher voltage safety testing this summer. The Army Corps is also working with fisheries biologists to determine the optimal voltage required to repel all sizes of fish, including smaller juveniles. Results of the safety testing and voltage requirement studies will be used to determine future voltage settings for the barrier project. In the interim, Quarles said the Army Corps and the Coast Guard are developing potential options for operating at higher voltages if juvenile fish are detected in the barrier area.

The U.S. Coast Guard has established a regulated navigation area and safety zone in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal around the navigable waters located adjacent to and over the barrier system. The temporary interim rule places navigational and operational restrictions on all vessels transiting those navigable waters, including the requirement for all commercial red flag vessels to be escorted through the area by Army Corps-provided bow boats.

All boaters are reminded to exercise extreme caution while traveling in the Sanitary and Ship Canal from the Midwest generation power plant to the pipeline arch, an approximately 1400-foot section of the canal from river mile 296.1 to 296.7. While traveling through the area boaters are advised to remain seated, stay out of the water, keep hands and feet out of the water, and closely supervise children and pets or send them below deck. Boaters are also advised not to linger or attempt to moor in the restricted area.

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