Feds to allocate $225 million to protect Joliet area, Great Lakes from Asian carp

Rep. Bill Foster says Brandon Road Lock and Dam is ‘last line of defense’ in keeping invasive species from reaching the Great Lakes

The federal government will contribute a major financial investment in a project aimed at keeping the invasive Asian Carp species out of the Joliet area and the Great Lakes.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, announced Wednesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $225 million for the Brandon Road Project to prevent the carp from reaching Lake Michigan, according to a news release.

Foster described the project to build the Brandon Road Lock and Dam as the “last line of defense” from preventing the invasive species from reaching the tributaries and lakes in the Great Lakes basin.

“That’s why supporting the Brandon Road Project has always been one of my most important priorities,” Foster said in a statement. “Thanks to the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Army Corps of Engineers finally has the resources it needs to finish planning and begin construction on this critical project that will help protect Illinois waterways and the entire Great Lakes region. I’m looking forward to seeing this project come to fruition.”

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was signed by President Joe Biden on Nov. 15 of last year.

In January of 2021, Foster and the Great Lakes Task Force asked the Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize the Brandon Road Project. In a letter to the assistant secretary of the army, the task force explained that the Brandon Road Lock and Dam is a “critical chokepoint” for keeping the carp from Lake Michigan.

Foster and other members of Congress have toured the Brandon Road site to learn about the importance of the project.

The Biden Administration announced Wednesday that the Army Corps of Engineers will invest $14 billion in 500 projects across the nation that focus on strengthening critical supply chains. Foster argued these investments will create jobs, strengthen key water infrastructure projects, enhance resilience to climate change and restore the environment.

State officials in recent years have touted the success in curbing the Asian carp population. As of 2018, the state said the species was about 93% eliminated in the Joliet area.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has partnered with commercial fishermen to capture and remove the carp on a regular basis.

“The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is pleased to hear this news from the federal government and looks forward to continuing our partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Brandon Road Interbasin Project to prevent invasive carp from advancing to the Great Lakes,” said Loren Wobig, director of the IDNR Office of Water Resources, in a statement.

The state had already signed an agreement with the Army Corps in December of 2020, along with help from the state of Michigan, on the project design, according to the IDNR. The state said it aims to award a construction contract for the first part of the project in 2024.