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    Ohio & Erie Canal Aquatic Nuisance Species Barrier Project Complete

    Ohio-Erie Canal: check valve installation

    Photo By Andrew Kornacki | U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District contractors install a check valve at...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District

    Daily the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ electric fish barriers deter the movement of Asian carp and other aquatic nuisance species (ANS) from passing through the Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal and into the Great Lakes. But did you know there were a handful of other sites identified along the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basin divide as having a moderate likelihood for the transfer of species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins?

    A five-mile stretch along the Ohio & Erie Canal towpath near Akron, Ohio was one of these areas that had a moderate likelihood for transfer. Completion of construction in May 2020 has resulted in the installation of barrier measures at 14 individual locations to reduce the likelihood of movement between the basins by northern snakehead, silver carp, black carp and bighead carp, should they reach this location.

    “Ground surface elevations at most locations along this watershed divide were adequate to inhibit transfer of species during normal weather conditions, but there was a potential for the basins to be connected during extreme flood events,” said Frank O’Connor, USACE Buffalo District project manager. “It’s important to keep these target species out because they are fast growing and prolific feeders capable of out-competing native fish for food. The Ohio & Erie Canal project represents a key component of the comprehensive, interagency strategy to aggressively protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp through early detection, prevention, and control.”

    Studies along the divide in this area showed the topography in some areas allowed overtopping by floodwaters and the construction project included raising ground surface elevations by top-dressing about 1,000 feet of the towpath, installing a 150-foot long concrete barrier, driving approximately 2,000 linear feet steel sheet pile, and installing 555 linear feet of stone-filled gabion baskets adjacent to the towpath to address these low points.

    At other locations, where direct movement between watersheds was possible during normal flow conditions, approximately 130 linear feet of fencing and individual screens have been installed as barriers.

    "Preventing aquatic invasive species, like Asian carp, moving from the Ohio River Basin into the Great Lakes Basin via the Ohio & Erie Canal is why this project was critical to protect the ecological and economic importance of the Nation's largest fresh water source," said MG Robert Whittle, USACE Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Commander. "Using Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds, provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, a multi-agency team made up of USACE Buffalo and Huntington district experts, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, US Fish and Wildlife services, and the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee pooled resources to deliver this project to construct effective physical barriers at this location that will help defend against what would be future threats to the high value of recreational and commercial fisheries in Ohio and the Great Lakes."

    Strong partnerships deliver stronger projects. The partnership of this project was stronger than the concrete and steel used during construction.

    "This project exemplifies how federal, state and local partners can work together to shut the door on bighead and silver carps, slowing their spread and reducing the threat to our nation's rivers, lakes and reservoirs," said Mike Weimer, a senior biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and co-chair of the Asian Carp Regional Committee. "We are able to point to the work completed in the Ohio & Erie Canal as a primary example of how partners are taking aggressive action to hold the line against aquatic invasive species, and in turn protecting the Great Lakes."

    Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding made the work of the partnership possible.

    "The EPA is pleased to celebrate the completion of the Ohio & Erie Canal Aquatic Nuisance Species Barrier Project, which will help protect the commercial and recreational fisheries in Ohio and the Great Lakes. The funding we provided the US Army Corps of Engineers through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative made the construction of physical barriers possible, and is yet another example of the progress we can make in protecting and restoring the Great Lakes through a partnership of federal, state, and local agencies," said EPA Region 5 Administrator, Kurt Thiede.

    Completing this project was an important step in protecting the health of the Great Lakes. Effective barriers are now in place at this key location and it was done so in a proactive manner. Taking these steps now help us be prepared for what could eventually become a greater threat to the ecology and economy of the Great Lakes. Fortunately, the partnership has already turned its focus to targeting the other areas identified as priorities to prevent the migration of ANS and Asian carp into the Great Lakes basin from the Mississippi River basin.

    For more information on this project:




    Date Taken: 10.22.2020
    Date Posted: 10.22.2020 09:14
    Story ID: 381479
    Location: AKRON, OH, US 

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