Thursday, December 18, 2014

Steps for a Happy New Year

As we come to the end of the year, it seems paradox, but instead of finishing projects - this is the time of year when new projects get started. Many companies, schools and businesses are focused on next years’ budgets and the work that will go with them. As you step into the New Year, there is a process needed to successfully get a construction or renovation project off the ground for next spring. If you haven’t already, now is the time to consider the first key step: Funding.

Every project is different, and yet they each have the same basic key elements. No matter how big or small a project is there are important steps to be taken. Funding may seem like an obvious matter, but it is an absolute necessity. Many times Funding will go hand in hand with choosing the right design professional for the project. Is it a new building or renovation? Then an Architect will need to be on your team. Are you doing earthwork or site improvements? A Civil Engineer can help. Hiring a quality professional up front can save time and money with possible solutions before you build. You will also want to have full knowledge of the property you hope to develop. Accurate Surveys, Site Assessments with Historical Data, and Geo-technical Reports, sometimes referred to as “due diligence,” can help determine the property value and the feasibility of using the parcel for the project you have in mind.

Once you have your team in place, the designing can begin. A ‘Schematic Design’ would be the first design steps, some of which can include the above mentioned research. Designs can change based on utilities, drainage, soil conditions, municipalities, or other factors that come up during the continuing research on a piece of land. This first design stage helps to shake out the issues that will need to be handled during the construction process. 

 The ‘Design Development’ Stage continues this design process, refining the plans as decisions are made and issues are resolved. Once the designs are complete, the design professional can issue Construction Documents for bidding. Your design professional can help with the bidding as needed and oversee, answer questions, and provide guidance throughout the construction process including coordination with municipalities and resolution of any issues regarding the design.

At the end of the project, the Close-out will help to tie up loose ends, ensure that any construction issues are resolved and provide the corrections needed for the final occupancy and use of the developed parcel. It sounds like a simple enough process, but having the right team for your project can make the difference between a timely success and a long, expensive road to misery. I’m going to wish you the first – a Happy and Successful New Year with the right people on your team.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


It’s November – a traditional time of year for people to stop and think about what they are thankful for in their day to day lives.  Personally, I’m thankful for hot water and for the engineers who figured out how to create a water system that provides me with a constant supply of clean, potable water.   Have you ever thought of all the things that wouldn’t be part of your day today without Engineers?    Things like roads, clean water, bridges, Drainage to prevent flooding and so much more are all because we have Engineers to create, innovate and improve the infrastructure that makes modern society possible.

Water Filter Experiment [Click Here]
These improvements are only part of the reason we can be thankful for Engineers and why so many schools in America are looking at their STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math curriculum as a means to promote interest in these critical fields.  As our society grows in technology, it is becoming increasingly important for schools to foster critical thinking in students, increase their abilities in the STEM fields, and enable this generation to continue to create new and innovative solutions for our needs today, tomorrow and for years to come.    

As part of this effort, MeritCorp Employees spent two hours investing in the future of America at the Crone Middle School STEM night [11-19-14].   Crone Middle School, like many other schools in Illinois, invited working professionals from various businesses to show the students the real life application for STEM curriculum.   

Since Civil Engineering is a broad umbrella, we used a video from the American Society of Civil Engineers [ASCE] called  “What do Civil Engineers Do?” to help the students get a better understanding of the varied options available.   We then did a hands-on project where the students learned the basics of an industrial water filter.   This visual helped the students to see one real-life application of Civil Engineering Knowledge.

We hope that all of the students who came and participated in the STEM night went home with a renewed excitement and interest in the Science and Engineering Fields.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spring, Summer, Construction, Winter…..

Fall is here, but are you ready?  Ready for the construction, snow, and really bad pot-holes next Spring?  You drive thru the construction…bounce thru the pot-holes, but have you thought about what those crews on the side of the road are doing?  Ever wonder about the constant work to maintain our roads and what could be the cause of the giant pot-hole you just found?  To answer this, let’s take a look at just three of the factors to asphalt degradation:  How the road was made, who drives on the road, and where the road was built.  

The first area to look at is the design of the road.  The region where you live and the type of soil that is available is a factor affecting the lifecycle of the roads you use.  Sub-base failure or poor quality soil along with poor compaction can greatly reduce the life of the roads.  Too much clay or silt can affect the ability of the road to drain properly.   An Engineer needs to ask themselves: Is there adequate drainage for spring thaws and heavy water flow?  Will it hold the weight of snow plows and buses?  What utilities are buried in the area?  What is the climate where the road will be built?  All of these are important considerations in designing any road, drive or parking lot.   

Alligator Cracking
Have you ever seen a parking lot where the asphalt got too warm and a big truck left a tire mark?  High temperatures soften the asphalt binder and allow the weight of heavy tires to deform the
Even in more moderate temperatures over-loading can cause problems.  If the sub-base is not adequately compacted or if too many heavy vehicles are on a roadway early cracking and deterioration may occur.  Prior to designing a roadway, the Civil Engineer needs to know about the amount of use the road will have, the weight of the vehicles and speed they will travel.   If you begin to think about this as you travel, you will notice that many truck stops, shipping facilities, and highways use concrete instead of asphalt so it can withstand the heavy traffic.  It won’t stop the normal process of deterioration over time, however, knowing the intended use of the roadway or parking lot is essential in designing the right solution.

One of the worst enemies of asphalt is water damage including: 

- Water caught under the asphalt causing soft soil    
   conditions or freezing which becomes frost heave. (Silt or Clay is more susceptible)
-  Poor drainage allows water to get into cracks and begins eroding the sub-base.
-  Freezing / Thawing can push asphalt apart at cracks, leave voids in the sub-base and cause 
-  The ground thaws from the top down which can trap water between the asphalt and frozen ground 
    causing soft soil.

Other weather factors can include hot weather, making asphalt soft and/or causing the asphalt to oxidize making it stiffer and less resilient.  Cold weather can also make the asphalt stiffer and less resilient causing cracks that allow even more water to get in and under it and cause damage.
Other Environmental elements that can affect the life of an asphalt road include tree roots that push up from underneath, changes to the ground under a road such as sinkholes, nearby erosion, or continuous chemical exposure from vehicles in high traffic areas.

Even the best made Asphalt road won’t last forever and for many municipalities the balance between budget and maintenance is an ongoing issue.   With this information in mind you can watch construction crews with a new perspective and think about these key factors to asphalt paving:
-  Build on a firm foundation and use the best sub-grade material available
-  Compact!  The more dense it is, the stronger it is
-  Design for the region ensuring adequate drainage for spring thaw and heavy water flow
-  Know the traffic load and use
-  Maintain the road by sealing cracks, keeping it clear of water, check ditches and drains

Hopefully this has given you a basic understanding of how and why the potholes form and the basic cause and effect of water, weather and usage on Asphalt.   If you still have questions or need to know more for a project, you can contact us by phone at 630.554.6655 or email.  You can also check out our website for a list of our services.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Change can be good, bad and sometimes very hard. Moving to a new office location while expanding and opening a new office is a huge undertaking. One that can have great benefits, but that may come with some temporary setbacks such as schedule delays and perhaps even misplacing that odd piece of paper with information. I have been ever so grateful over the past two months for the generosity and flexibility of those around us including clients, co-workers and even my family. As we have settled into the new locations (yes, we now have TWO offices!! Aurora & Palatine)

I am happy to conclude that we are still the same company – just in a different place.

You are only as good as your employees….
The juxtaposition of old and new, experience and innovation is a never ending tension in the workplace. Every business wants to have experienced employees, but they also NEED a certain amount of innovation and youthfulness to keep up with changing times. At MeritCorp, we strive for that balance between the experience that knows how things are done thru years of learning and innovation that takes a fresh look for new solutions because after all – things aren’t what they used to be. It is important in our industry to keep moving ahead with the cutting edge of technology, ever improving our skills with continuing education and training, while maintaining the connection with that which we know to be tried and true proven methods and experience. Working together, mentoring and continuing education are all important aspects to make each employee even better than they are today, which then continues to make MeritCorp even better for tomorrow and beyond.

Celebrating our People
Labor Day was instituted as a Federal Holiday in 1894 to celebrate the labor that has made this country what it is today. The definition of ‘labor’ and who is being celebrated may be a bit hazy, due to the frenzy of new technology in the recent era, but the Federal Department of Labor puts it this way:

"Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contrib
utions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."

‘The American Worker’ has grown far beyond Railroad Crews and Construction Workers. It takes a nation full of dreamers and designers, Architects, Engineers, Builders and Developers to create the ‘strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country’. So take a moment to appreciate your employees, celebrate those you work with and encourage those who are stepping up with new ideas for tomorrow.

We are as good as the Engineers and Surveyors that work here... and proud of it.  We have a new location, we have expanded and added a new office, but the same great people who are worth celebrating are here to make sure that MeritCorp Group LLC continues 'Designing the Future' with our clients.

Rebecca Luginbill

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Digging up the Facts on CCDD

If you are in the Construction industry, chances are you have heard about Clean Construction or Demolition Debris, also known as CCDD but you may not know exactly what it is or how it impacts you.   First we need to back up a little and look at what practices have been used in handling soil and construction debris in previous years.  Previously the rules for handling the construction debris were not as clear and during the construction process could go to any number of places.  If the soil and debris were uncontaminated, that may have been okay, however since no one was testing it there was a concern of this material moving harmful contaminates to places where it could affect ground water and public health.  This was part of the reason why regulations regarding the disposal and use of these materials were recently made more specific.

What is Clean Construction and Demolition Debris [CCDD]?

According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency [IEPA] Website, the definition of CCDD is:

CCDD:  Uncontaminated broken concrete without protruding metal bars, bricks, rock, stone or reclaimed asphalt pavement generated from construction or demotion activities.  When uncontaminated soil is mixed with any of these materials, the uncontaminated soil is also considered CCDD – but only when mixed.  Uncontaminated Soil by itself is not considered CCDD.

Uncontaminated Soil:  Soil generated during construction, remodeling, repair or demolition of utilities, structures and roads that does not contain contaminates in concentrations that pose a threat to human health and safety and the environment.

So what does this mean?  How does this affect the way soil and construction debris are handled today?

The basic question to begin with on a construction project is to find out if there is a potential impact for contaminates from the property or a nearby potentially impacted property [Also known as a PIP].   Land Owners need to know what the property has been used for and if there are nearby industrial properties that could potentially leak harmful substances onto their property.  Is there a gas station or service nearby?  A Dry Cleaners?  A Paint Store?   If a property owner needs assistance in determining if their property is impaired an investigation by a trained Environmental Professional can help.

Uncontaminated Soil – No Potential Threat Nearby

Uncontaminated soil from a site that has not been used for commercial or industrial purposes, such as residential and agricultural soil [except orchards where arsenic and pesticides may have been applied] and that does not have a PIP nearby may be certified by either the site owner or operator or by a licensed professional engineer.   In order to dispose of this Clean Construction and Demolition Debris [CCDD] in a CCDD Fill operation, a pH test is still needed to prove the acidity is within the required range.  If the acidity is not within tolerance the material may need to go to a non-hazardous special waste landfill.

If the CCDD is from a Commercial or Industrial Property or there is a nearby Potential Impacting Property (PIP), certification must be made by a licensed professional in order to send the material to a CCDD Fill Operation.  This includes most roadway, utility and right of way projects as well.  The Environmental Professional will need to analyze samples for contaminates and proper pH levels in order for it to be deemed appropriate for CCDD Fill operations.   If it is impacted, then it will need to go to a landfill or other operation that receives impacted Materials.

Clean Construction and Demolition Debris is not difficult once you understand the rules that are in place to protect our water and environment.   At MeritCorp Group we strive to help our clients with all aspects of their Site Civil Projects from Planning thru completion.  Not sure where to start?  Give us a call!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Civil Engineering - Where Every Day is Earth Day

It’s EarthDay once again! [April 22nd]  In schools across the United States, students are learning about the important natural resources available to us and they are taking time to focus on ways to reduce, reuse, renew and recycle.  It is encouraging seeing this focus in the classroom and exciting to think about how this will translate to a better tomorrow.  That is our focus at MeritCorp every day – ‘Designing the Future’ to our best ability every day.  Perhaps you read the title of this Blog and you are asking yourself, “What does a Civil Engineer do that affects our environment?”

There are many facets to Civil Engineering and some of the specializations have more impact than others.  Here are just a few of the ways that a Civil Engineer manages the resources around us:
  • Engineers design how and where water flows taking into account contaminates, distance, filtration and final location.  This includes surface water, groundwater, wastewater, soil and air.
  • Engineers help manage our natural environment including wetlands, watersheds and floodplains.
  • Engineers design systems for wastewater treatment and disposal of solid and hazardous waste.

With each and every project, whether it be a roadway, building, or subdivision it is important to note that Engineers do not just consider building size and location, vehicle/pedestrian pavement design, traffic flow and safety, but they look at how the stormwater runoff will be collected, stored and discharged.  A Civil Engineer needs to find a way to reduce the volume of water and the level of contaminates in stormwater runoff.  They need to consider how to utilize natural filtration thru clean soil to recharge groundwater tables and to help protect sources of drinking water.
  • Where will the water that washes off the sediment, salt and oil from the building or pavement go?
  • How are contaminates separated from the stormwater discharge?
  • When a building is constructed, will there be enough area to contain rainfall and prevent downstream flooding?
  • Does the planned building or parking lot affect a natural area or wetland?
Proper management of stormwater from any land development is essential to ensure the continued quality of our natural water system of streams, rivers, wetlands, watersheds and floodplains.

When buildings and subdivisions are constructed, the civil engineers are responsible for designing how and where drinking water is provided to serve the site and how wastewater will be leaving the site.
  • Where will the water and sewer lines that are necessary for the building go?
  • How will they hook up with what is already in place?
  • How are these water and sewer lines protected? 

Municipalities and some developments are required to have wastewater filtered and cleaned either by a water treatment facility or thru a natural process before it goes back into our streams and waterways.

Earth Day is an important reminder that we need to minimize our negative impact on the environment.  As we learn and improve, we also strive to ‘clean up’ what is already in place thru testing and remediation.    Every day MeritCorp Group LLC works to design a better tomorrow thru responsible planning and thoughtful Engineering.   We can also help identify potential hazards at existing developments with Phase I and PhaseII investigations, and Asbestos Surveys.  We don’t need to wait for Earth Day to improve the World we live in because here we do it every day.

-  by Clayton Schuler and Rebecca Luginbill

Friday, March 21, 2014

MeritCorp Goes Back to School

This month MeritCorp Group, LLC went back to School!  Across the nation there has been a recent push in the education system to encourage students to embrace Math, Science and Technology learning.  Many schools, including the Oswego School system, are reaching out with programs like ‘Project Lead the Way’ and with community events like the recent Science Night put on by P.A.C.E. [Parents and Community for Excellence].   
MeritCorp Group was proud to participate in this fun evening focused on encouraging young students with activities focused on scientific principals related to Civil Engineering and Surveying.

The objective of the Science night was to provide an interactive experience for kids that would help them to learn about Civil Engineering and Land Surveying.   While the sometimes technical world of a Civil Engineer may go over the heads of kids, our staff stepped up to the challenge with three fun hands-on activities that anyone could relate to and learn from.

The first activity was focused on Civil Engineering.  Using a simplified design, we showed the kids how to filter water with sand similar to what would be done in a large industrial sand filter.  The kids were able to create a small filter using a 2-liter bottle, cotton balls, small aggregate (rocks) and sand.   For the ‘dirty’ water we used glitter with water.  This made it easy for the kids to see how the sand filters out solids.  Then as they poured the water back thru the filter a second (or third) time they could see how the fine particles would come out cleaner on the other side.

The second activity included a land surveying construction level.  It was set up for the kids to look thru and see an object across the room.  They enjoyed the ability to focus and see the tiny plaque on the bottom of a picture of George Washington.   Our goal was to show kids the resolution capabilities of the instrument and then explain how it is used by a surveyor to set and obtain elevations of roads, buildings and other structures.  

The third activity was focused more on problem solving, something a Civil Engineer has to do every day.  The problem presented was how to use a single sheet of paper to support heavy books at least 2 ½ inches off of the table.  They were allowed to use scissors, tape, and a ruler.  Amazingly, the kids stepped up to the challenge and figured out ways to create columns to support their impromptu ‘structures’.

The staff at MeritCorp had a fun evening of interacting with potential future engineers and surveyors.  With over 600 attendees, it was a busy 2 ½ hours.  We hope that the excitement of the evening will encourage future problem solvers to continue pursuing knowledge in the Science, Math, and Technology fields. 
“PACE Science Night was a great success thanks to all the support from presenters throughout the community, the volunteers, and everyone at Oswego High School!  Over 600 guests of all ages enjoyed presentations and activities at over 50 tables.” 
                                                  – Jessica Byrne (PACE Representative)

For parents interested in doing the water filter or even more fun activities to do with their kids visit: 

For more information on MeritCorp Group, LLC and how we can put our hands-on problem solving to work for you visit 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Can I get a Survey in the Winter?

With the severity of the winter weather this year our thoughts have turned to
the challenges of providing a survey in the winter weather.  While surveys are completed in the winter time, there are several factors to consider when deciding if the weather is a detriment to your goal.  The first thing to consider is what kind of survey do you need?  Once you have determined the need you can then look at the conditions, timing and cost to see if it really would make a difference to wait.  A few of the most commonly known surveys are as follows:

Boundary Survey:  In a nutshell, this type of survey is required to establish the property boundary and mark the corners of any property.  The more formal explanation says:  * “….…The purpose of a boundary survey is to establish or re-establish the extent of title lines, and to define and identify those lines so as to uniquely locate each lot, parcel or other specific land area in relation to well recognized and established points of reference, adjoining properties, and rights of way.”  

Since this type of survey defines the boundaries, it is necessary to find fixed points, features or previous monumentation (markers) which can mean breaking ice, digging snow and fighting with the frozen ground.  This can make surveying in the winter challenging, but not impossible.  A client can expect a slight increase in cost, depending on the size and nature of the property and its’ associated legal descriptions.  This may also mean waiting a day or two if there is a snow storm or extreme cold, but should not prevent a surveyor from completing the project goal.

Mortgage Survey – This is a boundary survey that also includes the building locations and easements.  This is different than a Mortgage Inspection (See Mortgage Inspection below).

Mortgage Inspection - *“A Mortgage Inspection does not approach the standards of other survey categories, though ….the services of an Illinois Professional Land Surveyor are required.  A mortgage inspection is not a type of boundary survey or ALTA/ACSM survey and does not constitute a boundary survey of the subject real property.  A mortgage inspection includes field investigation, measurements and graphic representation of improvements. The mortgage inspection is intended for use by a mortgage lender and/or title insurer and is only a professional opinion of the relationship of improvements with respect to the deed lines and the existence, location and type of building on the property, the intent of which is to assist in the determination of the property's suitability to serve as collateral for a mortgage.  It is not an opinion as to deed, title or platted lines.  It is not to be used in matters of boundary disputes, legal actions between landowners, or for construction purposes.  No new legal descriptions can be created from a mortgage inspection.”

Topographic Survey – While a boundary survey is completed in one dimension (flat), a topographic survey depicts elevations and contours of the land, buildings, sidewalks, utilities, and other features of the property.  This would include both natural (rivers, trees, etc.) and man-made features.  A more technical definition is: *“……the delineation of horizontal and/or vertical locations of the existing natural or man-made features of a portion of the earth's surface, subsurface or airspace and the graphic representation of the results of such delineation. ..”    Topographic surveys are frequently used in the design stage for new construction projects and may include boundary lines and easements (boundary survey) and may be part of a survey performed per the ALTA/ASCM standards.

Since a Topographic survey looks at all of the land features and the height or elevation of those features, it makes winter surveying more difficult.  Snow and ice covering the ground, especially in open areas with heavy drifting can make it difficult or impossible to determine vertical changes.  Utility structures, concrete, and monuments can be buried in the snow.  In order for a surveyor to take accurate measurements they may need to shovel snow to get to the roadway or other fixed height in multiple sections meaning the surveyor may spend more time shoveling the 5 ft of snow at the side of the road then they do actually measuring for the survey.  Again, this can affect the timing and  add cost or delay the survey if the weather prohibits proper measurements.

ALTA/ASCM – While other surveys may have slight variations in how they are presented, the ALTA standards were established to maintain uniformity in the information provided to lenders and Title companies.  This is not so much a type of survey, but a standard set of information that has to be included with the survey that is requested.  It includes a boundary survey and some, if not all of a Topographic Survey.   There are some options as to what is included or not and that is typically determined by the Lending Institution.  Commercial land transactions are the most common reason for an ALTA/ASCM survey.  Overall it is much more detailed survey and higher in cost due to the established standard that is followed.

As in the boundary and Topographic survey, the winter Cold, snow, ice, and frost cause longer monumentation searches when measuring and locating boundaries.  When Extreme cold occurs it can affect equipment calibration and battery life.  Since the ALTA/ASCM has more detailed and exacting standards it is of the utmost importance to have visibility and access to the whole site with few or no obstructions.  Winter conditions can greatly affect the surveyor’s ability to perform.  While it isn’t impossible, these factors can affect the timing and cost of providing this type of survey in the winter months.  A survey of this type will almost always bear a notation that it was performed in winter conditions and may not depict certain features otherwise found in optimum conditions.

While the winter months tend to keep most people indoors, it is nice to know that a surveyor is still able to get out and perform the job.  Just as Snow Drifts can hide features in the winter, a large bush or trees can be an obstruction in the summer.    It is important to consider the type of survey, the level of detail needed and timeframe required.  While there may be a slightly higher cost or a weather delay to consider in the wintertime, a quality surveyor can accomplish the needed survey no matter what time of year.   

Please contact us for more information about our Land Surveying Services or to get pricing.

- By Jonathan Spinazzola , PLS
Edited by Rebecca Luginbill

*The 2012 Illinois compiled statutes and administrative rules for the practice of professional land surveying in the state of Illinois, published by: Illinois professional land surveyors association

Friday, February 21, 2014

Oswego, IL - State of the Village for 2014

As a business and member of the Oswego Chamber, I attended the 3rd Annual Oswego Chamber of Commerce “State of the Village” address on February 17th featuring Village President Brian LeClercq and Oswego Economic Development Director Vijay Gadde.  The theme of this event was Oswego’s pro-business climate, accomplishments over the past year and future development highlights.   We at MeritCorp Group are excited about these growth opportunities in our area and hope that it will continue to strengthen the economic development in Oswego and the surrounding communities in the coming years.  Following are the Highlights from the breakfast:

- Win Soon, Inc. is planning their second U.S. production facility in 2014 for their Asian style cultured beverages in Oswego, IL in the Kendall Point Business Center.  They expect to create 40 fulltime employment positions the first year and reach 180 by the year 2020.  Read more in the Oswego Patch.
- It is not official yet, but rumor has it that the vacant Lowe’s building finally has a buyer.  The tentative plan is the break it up into multiple retail spaces and Hobby Lobby may be one of the first retailers to fill a large portion of the now empty space.  
- Last year the Village approved a development plan and special use permit for a truck transit facility at 2000 Wiesbrook Drive in the Kendall Point Business Center.  This year the opening of the Sam’s Club logistics center at that location should start with 40 jobs for area residents and hopefully grow to around 100.
- Although Centrella looked at buying multiple Dominicks stores that stand empty at the end of last year, the fate of the empty store remains uncertain. Rumors of different grocery chains (Whole Foods?) are floating around in other markets but given the number of grocers in close proximity to this location that may not be the case in Oswego. The possibility of breaking the retail space up to suit smaller businesses is more likely for this location.  Vijay Gadde is working with the building’s current owner to help find an end user(s) but ultimately the fate of that space is in the hands of the owner.
- Despite the overall sluggish economy, Oswego has a healthy number  of new residential housing permits and new commercial businesses opened.  For more information on these numbers and the growth and development happening in Oswego visit 

- By Todd Roberts

For  information on the Village of Oswego Visit: 
For Information on the Oswego Chamber of Commerce: 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Great Lakes, Chicago Waterways, and Asian Carp

Asian Carp and the threat they pose to the Great Lakes has been in and out of the news for some time now, and has just recently been spotlighted by a new report prepared by the US Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps).  “Asian carp are fast-growing, aggressive and adaptable fish that are outcompeting native fish species for food and habitat in much of the mid-section of the United States.1

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) submitted to Congress the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Inter-basin Study (GLMRIS) Report Jan. 6, 2014….The report contains eight alternatives, each with concept-level design and cost information, and evaluates the potential of these alternatives to prevent, to the maximum extent possible, the spread of 13 ANS, to include Asian carp...” 2    The  Army Corps, during the Month of January 2014, is in process of hosting public meetings in Chicago, Cleveland, Ann Arbor, Traverse City, St. Paul, St. Louis and Milwaukee to discuss the options available and allow for public comment.  Since all of the options offered require extensive funding, there needs to be public support for any plan put into action.

The Chicago Area Waterway (CAW) system has been the main topic of conversation regarding the threat of Asian Carp entering the Great Lakes. In this new report, the Army Corps identifies 18 other possibilities for passage of Asian Carp and other species into the waterways.  One passage where preventive measures are needed is known as Eagle March, near Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Eagle Marsh is at the headwaters of the Wabash River, which is part of the Mississippi River Basin, and the Maumee River, which is part of the Great Lakes Basin. During flood events, water depths in Eagle Marsh range from 2 feet deep to 10 feet deep. These events last from just days or up to a month, and can occur multiple times during any given year. These events allow for a clear passage for Asian Carp and other species between the two basins.

Several species of Asian Carp are known to be present in the Wabash River, and are within 25-70 miles of Eagle Marsh.  To reach Eagle Marsh, the fish would need to enter Little River and then a series of ditches. Upon reaching Eagle Marsh, the free passage to the Great Lakes (Erie) via the Maumee River can occur. To date, there is no certain evidence that the fish have reached Little River. There is no evidence of Asian Carp in Eagle Marsh either; however there is evidence of common carp, which have made successful passage for decades.  

Several projects are currently in place or in the design phase to prevent passage of these invasive and destructive fish from our waterways.   Currently a temporary chain link fence has been installed between the two basins and is meant to prevent larger fish from gaining free passage. Other possibilities for implementation include structural barriers, chemical treatments, biological controls and physical fish removal. 

Our waterways are an important resource to be protected.  At MeritCorp Group, LLC we want to help our clients make informed decisions and provide information needed to create eco-friendly developments focused on the best use of natural resources.  Some of our services include Flood Control, Stormwater Management, Erosion Control, and Drainage.  For a complete list of the services we offer please see our website.
Please feel free to contact our office with any questions or for more information on the services we provide.

- by James Meier, PE, PLS, CFM

2. Army Corps of Engineers Report