An aquatic nuisance species (ANS) is a nonindigenous species that threatens the diversity or abundance of native species or the ecological stability of infested waters, or commercial, agricultural, aquacultural or recreational activities dependent on such waters. See 16 U.S.C. § 4702(1) (2010).
As a result of international commerce, travel and local practices, ANS have been introduced throughout the Mississippi River and Great Lakes basins. These two basins are connected by man-made channels that, in the past, exhibited poor water quality, which was an impediment to the transfer of organisms between the basins. Now that water quality has improved, these canals allow the transfer of both indigenous and nonindigenous invasive species.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), in consultation with other federal agencies, Native American tribes, state agencies, local governments and non-governmental organizations, is conducting the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS). In accordance with the study authorization, USACE will evaluate a range of options and technologies (collectively known as "ANS controls") to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River by aquatic pathways. In this context, the term "prevent" includes the reduction of risk to the maximum extent possible, because it may not be technologically feasible to achieve an absolute solution. As part of this study, USACE will conduct a detailed analysis of various ANS controls, including hydrologic separation.
USACE will conduct an analysis of ANS controls and will analyze the effects each ANS control or combination of ANS controls may have on current uses of: i) the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS), a continuous aquatic pathway between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins; and ii) other aquatic pathways between these basins. Following the Economic and Environmental Principles and Guidelines for Water and Related Land Resource Implementation Studies, Water Resource Council, March 10, 1983, USACE will:
- Inventory current and forecast future conditions within the study area;
- Identify aquatic pathways that may exist between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins;
- Inventory current and future potential aquatic nuisance species;
- Analyze possible ANS controls to prevent ANS transfer, to include hydrologic separation of the basins;
- Analyze the impacts each ANS control may have on significant natural resources and existing and forecasted uses of the lakes and waterways within the study area; and
- Develop a report to provide Congress and other stakeholders with an analysis of potential ANS control alternatives.
Significant issues associated with GLMRIS may include, but are not limited to:
- Significant natural resources such as ecosystems and threatened and endangered species;
- Commercial and recreational fisheries;
- Current recreational uses of the lakes and waterways;
- ANS effects on water users;
- Effects of potential ANS controls on current waterway uses such as flood risk management, commercial and recreational navigation, recreation, water supply, hydropower and conveyance of effluent from wastewater treatment plants and other industries; and
- Statutory and legal responsibilities relative to the lakes and waterways.