Get the facts: the Menasha lock barrier

Posted on Sep 30, 2019 by

The proposed electric barrier at the Menasha lock

For the last three years, the Fox River Navigational System Augthority (FRNSA) has been the only entity that has been leading the charge to find solutions to open the Menasha lock by seeking out proposals using the best available science and new technology. We have invested more than $200,000 to find solutions that use proven scientific studies and believe we have a solution. The proposed electric barrier is the best, most current technology to meet the needs of all parties. The Fox River watershed belongs to all citizens of the state of Wisconsin as well as all recreational and commercial boaters, silent sport users, homeowners, business owners, tour boat owners, fisherman and women, and the non-boating public. The goals of the barrier system are:

  • prevent the spread of the round goby into the Lake Winnebago watershed,
  • return the Menasha lock to operation,
  • build a system that can be adapted to prevent the spread of any future invasive species.

We are working with researchers from USGS, ACOE, DNR as well as engineers from OMNNI Associates to review the most recent scientific research on invasive species barriers and solutions that have worked for other communities in the Great Lakes region. Smith-Root, one of the nation’s leaders in aquatic ecosystem management, is designing a plan using a system of electric deterrent barrier and water flow regulation at the Menasha lock to stop the spread of the round goby.

This concept involves building a concrete, U-shaped channel with a smooth surface similar to a pool, adjacent to and downstream from the Menasha lock. Electrodes would be recessed in the bottom of the channel. This type of a barrier will allow boat traffic to pass through the channel while halting the passage of fish. The barrier delivers a pulsing DC current to fish entering the channel, causing them to turn around and not enter the lock; it also uses a flushing flow water velocity process to prevent the round goby from moving into the lock channel. The DC current in the water is not dangerous to humans.

The design proposal is currently 60% complete and has been submitted to the state DNR for review and approval. This proposed design is estimated at $3 million, all of which FRNSA will fund through monies generated from community fundraising and investment income.

For more information, please visit this link. 

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