CHICAGO (AP) – The Army Corps of Engineers will in two weeks begin building a permanent electric barrier to keep the invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, officials announced Wednesday.

The $9.1 million project in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, a link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, is expected to be completed by April. The carp can migrate across Illinois from the Mississippi by various other rivers and then the canal.

The federal government will spend $6.8 million on the barrier. Illinois has committed $1.7 million, and the other Great Lakes states will fund the remainder of about half a million dollars.

“Asian carp can completely disrupt the biodiversity and ecosystem of the lakes,” said EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt. “We’ve got to stop them where they are.”

The announcement comes more than two years after a temporary electric barrier was installed amid concerns that the voracious carp – which can grow to 150 pounds and eat 40 percent of its body weight a day – would devour so much food it could starve native species. That barrier proved effective but it is now deteriorating, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Rep. Judy Biggert, who represents the area where the barrier will be built, said an Asian carp had been spotted in the Illinois River just 21 miles from the barrier.

Meanwhile, state officials are working to try to reduce the number of carp in other rivers, including the Illinois River, where the fish has already taken a firm hold.

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