TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) -- An electric barrier near Chicago designed to prevent Asian carp and other species from migrating between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River system had a 13-minute power outage this week, officials said Friday.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. David Camp, both of Michigan, told The Associated Press about the outage prior to an official announcement. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the barrier network, confirmed the report.
The outage happened about 1 p.m. CDT Wednesday, Stabenow and Camp said. Two of three barriers in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal were operating at the time and both failed. Backup generators were activated, but a power surge prevented them from immediately working.
The barriers emit rapid pulses to scare away fish and jolt those that don't turn back. They are located 37 miles by water from Lake Michigan.
The corps and experts with the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee are investigating the cause of the failures and determining whether any fish were nearby at the time, the lawmakers said.
Federal officials consider the barriers a crucial part of their strategy for preventing bighead and silver carp from invading the Great Lakes. The fish escaped from southern sewage lagoons and fish farms decades ago and have infested the Mississippi and its tributary rivers.
"These barriers are the only thing standing between the Asian carp and our Great Lakes," Stabenow and Camp said in a statement. "If carp had been able to get through while the barriers were down, it could have been absolutely devastating to our economy and our way of life."