GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Inflation has hit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The USACE has announced the cost for the Brandon Road Interbasin Project, which would keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes, is nearly 13% higher than the 2019 estimate.
According to Michigan Radio, the updated plan includes “more efficient ways” to build the barriers, but the rising costs of labor and material will still force government agencies to open their pocketbooks even wider.
In 2019, the total project cost for the Brandon Road Lock and Dam system was estimated at $1.014 billion. Now, that number is up to $1.146 billion — that’s $131 million more, or a 12.9% increase.
The Illinois and Michigan state governments are expected to cover a portion of the costs, with $64 million coming from Michigan and $50 million from Illinois. That funding, however, still needs to be approved by the legislatures to move forward.
Invasive carp, formerly known as Asian carp and also known as copi, are considered a major threat to the Great Lakes. The imported fish have no natural predators in the Mississippi River system and have overtaken the ecosystem there. Some parts of the system report that invasive carp make up 70% of the ecosystem’s fish population.
Biologists believe invasive carp would have a similar effect in the Great Lakes, devouring the food resources for many other popular fish, including walleye and rainbow trout, not only upending the ecosystem but also the region’s billion-dollar fishing industry.
Environmental agencies already have electric barriers along the Mississippi River system to prevent invasive carp from passing through, although a select few have managed to get by. Since 2010, three invasive carp have been confirmed caught past the barriers, including one caught last year in Lake Calumet — just 7 miles away from Lake Michigan. Still, no breeding population of invasive carp has been found past the barriers, let alone in the Great Lakes.