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Projects | Fending Off Fiendish Fish

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Invasive Asian Carp have been wreaking havoc on U.S. waterways for quite a few years now, out-competing native fish and unbalancing the natural ecosystem. To deter these fish from entering larger bodies of water, electric barriers are currently used. But the USGS sought additional deterrents to ensure these fiendish fish wouldn’t travel into the Great Lakes.

After completing some prototypical experiments in their Lacrosse, Wisconsin facility, the USGS’s Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC) determined that higher levels of carbon dioxide in the water can deter Asian carps and other non-native species who can detect these levels. With this knowledge, the USGS received funding to take their small prototype to the next step by recreating it on a larger scale in a lock.

Bailey Edward engineers worked with GEI Consultants to develop the first lock on the Mississippi river near Davenport, Iowa. But after completing the design, the Iowa DNR would not grant a permit. The Davenport lock was further complicated due to its activity level: as an active, operating lock, it would be necessary to coordinate with the United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) in this study.

For these reasons, the USGS sought a new site and found one on the Fox River in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. Here, the only additional challenge to building the prototypes on a larger scale would be installation. As a historic lock, no piping could be attached to the sides. As a temporary installation for the experiment, the Bailey Edward design team created system using as much rental equipment as possible so that it could be easily removed when the experiment was complete. With a rented diesel generator, CO2 equipment, and diesel pump, the system reached desired CO2 levels in the water much faster than predicted.

After the four-week data collection period, the C02 system has since been removed from the lock. On the surface, it appears to have been a success, but the final results are still to be determined. If the results are truly successful, similar CO2 fish barriers will be installed at other Asian carp management locations such as the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois.

For a more detailed look at the study, be sure to read more on the Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance website here.