Great Loop: Closure of the Illinois Waterway from MM 290.1 to 290.7.

Adena-Marilyn - August 27, 2009


"There is a closure of the Illinois Waterway from MM 290.1 to 290.7. The closure is due to an electric fence at that location to prevent Asian carp from coming north into the Great Lakes. The fence is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There was an opportunist that was offering to tow boats 400 feet for $600. I want to emphasize that that was NOT Tow Boat U.S.. The CG put him out of business becuse it turned out he had no license, thus no insurance.
It seems that the Asian carp are becoming inured to the previously used voltage/amperage and they are having to ramp up both to keep the carp at bay.
The closure involves non-metallic hulled boats transiting the area with any engines (including generators) in operation.
We have been in contact with the USCG about our stationing a diesel powered metal hulled towboat at that location to tow non-metallic hulls through the affected area. We are not holding our breath at this time, as the Corps of Engineers is trying to figure out how they would pay for the towing. I suggested that most boaters going that way would be happy to pay a reasonable tow fee rather than? wait till the government plods through hearings.
Our placing a towboat at that location would involve sending a $950,000 vessel with 2-3 crew, who would live on the vessel during the necessary period. Obviously this would involve some expense and we have not figured out how to charge a fee just yet.
Jack Manley; Towboat U.S. Chicago, Kenosha, Hammond, Waukegan, Michigan City, New Buffalo and Illinois Waterway."
                                                                                                                                                                                         Electricity was recently doubled on the canal after reports that Asian
carp are now just below the fish-shocking barrier that is considered the
last line of defense for the Great Lakes.
As a result, the Coast Guard on Friday closed the canal to all vessels
other than tugs and barges.
The barrier is now shooting two volts an inch into the water, which
Sanger calls "a lot of juice."
He said what makes transits so hazardous for wood boats is the potential
for sparks to fly from their metal fittings.
The Nina and Pinta got a special pass, but the canal gets busy in late
summer and early fall with Lake Michigan yacht owners heading south for
the winter.

"We know there is going to be an exodus in the next few weeks," said Phil
Moy, a University of Wisconsin Sea Grant employee who has been working
with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get the barrier built for the
better part of the past decade.
Army Corps Col. Vincent Quarles said he is aware the canal's busy season
for recreational boats is just around the corner, and his agency is
working with the Coast Guard as quickly as it can to figure out how to
keep those boats moving safely down the canal, but more tests are needed.
"I can't at this point talk about a timeline," he said.
Boaters who violate the safety zone face a maximum penalty of $32,500,
according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
"Safety of the recreational and commercial mariners that transit the
waterway is the Coast Guard's primary concern," said Capt. Luann Barndt,
the commander of the Coast Guard's Sector Lake Michigan.