Congress has approved legislation that will close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam within one year to prevent the spread of Asian carp.
The provision, authored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar in the Senate and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison in the House, was included in the final water infrastructure conference bill. The Senate passed the measure today after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill earlier in the week. It now heads to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.
"The spread of invasive carp poses a major threat not only to Minnesota's environment, but also the recreation and fishing industries that help power our state's economy and create jobs," Klobuchar said in a statement earlier this week. "I fought hard to include this critical lock closure provision in the final bill so we can stop these invasive species in their tracks."
Mayor Betsy Hodges commended the state's congressional delegation for taking action on the issue.
"As Minnesotans we know both our quality of live — and our vast recreational economy — depend on preserving our rivers and lakes from invasive species," Hodges said. "Here in Minneapolis, we know that closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock is not without impacts. But the greater good of protecting our state's natural resources cannot be denied."
City Council Member Jacob Frey (Ward 3), who represents the area home to the lock and dam, also expressed support for the closure.
"We are stewards of the environment, and, in this case, the rest of the region. Doing nothing would allow our rivers and lakes to get ransacked by an invasive species. I think the answer is clear on this one," he said.
As for redevelopment possibilities, Frey said the community needs to "think outside the box" and find a way to "revitalize the riverfront and provide connectivity for generations to come."
Planning for a new riverfront park, Water Works, is underway near the lock and dam. It's a Park Board-owned site that is part of the RiverFirst initiative — a collaboration among a number of community organizations working on reimagining the riverfront.
Construction of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam was completed in 1963, which made river traffic north of the St. Anthony Falls possible.
(An illustration of a concept for the Water Works park.)