Berm construction within Eagle Marsh along the Graham-McCullough Ditch, Fort Wayne, Indiana, is complete.
The Army Corps of Engineers has been a partner in a multi-agency effort to construct this permanent barrier in the Fort Wayne area’s Wabash and Maumee River basins to prevent inter-basin transfer of aquatic nuisance species (ANS), with specific emphasis on preventing Asian Carp movement to the Great Lakes. Eagle Marsh is a wetlands restoration area that was developed as a partnership between the Little River Wetlands Project (LRWP), Indiana DNR, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
The berm replaced a lower, deteriorating berm that allowed floodwaters to pass between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds intermittently. The berm is primarily constructed of compacted earth, with some special rock fill sections and fence barriers for dedicated and specific overflow sections.
The district’s involvement began in 2010. As part of the larger Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS), the Eagle Marsh area east of Fort Wayne was identified as the pathway with the greatest potential – out of 18 total sites in the region – for allowing movement of aquatic nuisance species of concern between the two watersheds, outside of the primary pathway which is the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
As a sub-project to the GLMRIS ANS Controls report, the Louisville District project team investigated ways to engineer a solution to help minimize the inter-basin transfer of aquatic nuisance species. The Corps worked with several volunteer, local, state and federal agencies during this time period. The district’s study ultimately led to the long-term fix.
Knowing that the primary ANS of concern, the Asian Carp, had become a significant nuisance in the Wabash River downstream, there was urgency in development of a solution. The berm reconstruction was identified as the best solution to significantly decrease the frequency and duration of interbasin flows, according to Lakes and Rivers Division Regional Technical Specialist Ken Lamkin, Louisville District Hydrology and Hydraulic Design Section.
The NRCS – which had been involved with the project from the beginning – took over executing further work and provided funding, civil engineering, construction document development and construction oversight for the way ahead.
“Because the hydrology of the area is so complex, the Louisville District continued to support the project by performing hydrology and hydraulic modeling, determining hydraulic design parameters, and providing other support necessary for the various state and federal permits and approvals required,” said Lamkin.
Laban Lindley, team leader, Indianapolis regulatory office, and Greg McKay, regulatory chief, north section, visited the site and completed wetland delineation for the project area.
Despite the significant short-term impacts to the Eagle Marsh area, which had become a recreation attraction in the Fort Wayne area for hiking, biking, bird-watching and wildlife education, the LRWP personnel embraced the long-term goals of the project and helped to move the project along. As joint property owner with LRWP, the Indiana DNR also continued to be involved during the study and construction process.
After significant delays to construction due to the extremely wet weather through the Wabash River basin, NRCS’ contractor has recently completed the excavation, temporary seeding and mulching of the berm site.