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updated: 1/17/2014 4:30 PM

Congresswoman criticizes handling of Asian carp issue

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  • Signs warn river traffic about a section of water containing an electric fish barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal Romeoville in 2009. A toxic chemical was dumped Wednesday as part of state and federal efforts to keep the voracious and invasive Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.

      Signs warn river traffic about a section of water containing an electric fish barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal Romeoville in 2009. A toxic chemical was dumped Wednesday as part of state and federal efforts to keep the voracious and invasive Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

A congresswoman whose district stretches more than 100 miles alongside Lake Erie has criticized federal officials for not acting with enough urgency to keep harmful Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Toledo Democrat, challenged the Army Corps of Engineers during a public meeting Thursday night in Cleveland, saying the corps "has done this region a disservice in failing to make a firm recommendation about the best course of action," The Plain Dealer reported.

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"The two major threats to the ecosystem are harmful algal blooms and Asian carp," said Kaptur. "Preventing Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes system demands immediate attention and action, not waiting 25 years."

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine agreed the issue needs faster action.

"I don't think there has been a sense of urgency," said DeWine. "The people (of Ohio) really get it, and understand the Great Lakes. We want complete separation, and must move quickly."

Dave Wethington, project manager of a study on Asian carp, attended the hearing and said Friday that the corps had met congressional deadlines on the issue.

"I'm personally very proud of the product that we put together and the diligence and timeliness of the report," he said.

The corps last week sent Congress a list of alternatives for shielding the Great Lakes from Asian carp, which could devastate native fish. Two of the plans would place dams in the Chicago waterway system to seal off Lake Michigan from the carp-infested Mississippi River watershed.

About 100 people attended the meeting.

About a dozen people commenting on the report from the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study pressed for separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River basin with infrastructure in the Chicago Waterway System.

The carp-infested Illinois River flows into the system, making it the most likely avenue for silver and bighead carp, the worst of a noxious bunch of aquatic nuisance species.

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