The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) and the non-Federal sponsor, New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) have announced the completion of the Champlain Canal Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Barrier Phase 1 Study and the recommendation that a barrier be installed to limit the movement of invasive species into Lake Champlain.
The Lake Champlain Basin is threatened by a large number of non-native aquatic invasive plant and animal species and pathogens. One pathway for these invasives to migrate to Lake Champlain is through the Champlain Canal, which has been identified by natural resources scientists and managers as a major pathway by which non-native and invasive species can invade Lake Champlain.
Once these harmful aquatic invasive species become established, they compete with and displace native species, severely impacting water quality, the lake ecosystem and the local economy.
The purpose of the Phase 1 Study was to compare the costs, benefits, and effectiveness of different management alternatives that could best prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species between the Hudson and Champlain drainages via the Champlain Canal. The study’s objectives were to examine alternatives to prevent the transfer of Aquatic Invasive Species between the Hudson River Basin and Lake Champlain Basin and recommend an alternative with a favorable cost to benefit ratio.
The Phase 1 Study concluded that the Alternative 2 Physical Barrier Plan provides the most effective method for preventing the transfer of non-native aquatic invasive plant and animal species between the Lake Champlain and Hudson River Watersheds.
Alternative 2 includes several measures to limit the transfer of non-native aquatic invasive plant and animal species including: a physical barrier across the canal, a large vessel lift, a vessel ramp, a cleaning station located north of the Glens Falls Feeder Canal and repairs to the existing lock seals. The estimated cost of Alternative 2 is approximately $20 million.
The next steps will be the Champlain Canal Phase II Study and Design. Phase II activities include detailed engineering studies, vessel traffic studies, required real estate needs, detailed cost estimates and environmental compliance.
The Champlain Canal Barrier Study (Phase I) Final Report and Appendices can be found on the New York District webpage.
Photo of Lake Champlain bridge provided by Erica Remington.