Iowa Great Lakes to Get Electric Fish Barrier

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will open bids on Wednesday (9-26-12) for the first-ever electric fish barrier to be constructed in the Iowa Great Lakes. It will also be the first in the entire state.

The barrier, to be constructed on the Iowa Great Lakes dam on Lower Gar Lake, is hoped to stop the spread of the invasive Asian carp, specifically the bighead and silver carp, from further entry into the chain of lakes. The Iowa DNR first discovered two bighead carp in East Lake Okoboji in August 2011 during summer sampling efforts. The carp measured 14 to 15 inches in length, subsequent testing last fall found no more Asian carp, however a commercial fisherman, using a 5,000-foot-long net, caught 55 silver carp and 82 bighead carp in a single haul.

By taking proactive measures, such as installing an electric fish barrier, the Iowa DNR hopes to cut off the means for the Asian Carp to reach the Iowa Great Lakes.  The electric fish barrier will consist of eight electrodes attached to the vertical wing walls on the Iowa Great Lakes dam on Lower Gar Lake. The electrodes will be spaced to span 21 feet wide by the entire length of the 165-foot dam. At an estimated cost $627,000, not including the $118,000 for design and engineering, the electric barrier will be paid for through multiple sources. The local community fundraised $400,000 toward it, and the Iowa DNR contributed $300,000. The remainder will likely come from other partners, including the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Minnesota has a stake in keeping the invasive Asian carp from spreading out of the Iowa Great Lakes and into lakes in Jackson County such as Loon, Little Spirit and Clear Lake.