Update on Menasha lock status

Posted on Mar 2, 2021 by

Our goal is to reopen the Menasha Lock, but not without a solution that prevents the invasive round goby from entering the waters of Lake Winnebago. To that end, we have been working with a firm to study the effects of an electronic barrier and water velocity on deterring the fish from entering the lock channel.

Researchers reported the result of studies on adult round gobies at the most recent meeting of the Fox Locks board of directors. Study results show that an electronic barrier combined with increased water velocity deters adult round gobies from entering the lock channel. The current plan calls for building an electric array near the bottom of the Menasha lock channel that would pulse and push the gobies away or immobilize them. Changes in water velocity in the lock channel would be used to flush the lock and further push the gobies away.

The Wisconsin DNR had previously requested the study also be conducted on larval and juvenile round goby. That phase of the study is scheduled for later this year after egg and larvae collection is completed in summer.

“Above all, we are committed to finding a solution that protects the Lake Winnebago ecosystem and allows us to reopen the lock,” said Fox Locks CEO Jeremy Cords.

“We are as concerned about protecting the watershed and the fishing resource as the DNR is, so we are conducting the scientific research carefully and thoroughly.”

If the study results support the efficacy of the electronic barrier, other testing and approvals would need to take place before construction, barring setbacks and with swift approval construction could take place in the not-too-distant future. “Again, we will need to go through a period of testing the barrier and fine tuning theelectronic array, so this timeline is very preliminary,” Cords said.

In a related matter, the board heard a report on aquatic invasive species monitoring. Fox Lockshas been monitoring invasive species in the Fox River since 2006 and each summer tests waters in the Fox River and locations in Lake Winnebago. Two results were significant:

  • Testing sites in the waters of Lake Winnebago and near shore turned up no samples of round gobies.
  • In 2020, we added more testing sites and logged almost 10,000 hours of fishing yet found fewer round gobies at all locations compared to 2019.

“We don’t know if the native species are feasting on the round gobies, or if there’s a natural dip in the population, but further study will determine if there’s a trend developing,” Cords said.

If you have any questions or concerns about the round goby study or reopening the Menasha lock, please visit our contact page.

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