Restoring the Natural Divide

Study Presents New Options For Restoring the Chicago River & Protecting Lake Michigan

Chicago Area Waterway

A much-anticipated study says separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins to prevent the spread of Asian carp and other invasive species is not only possible, but a natural step toward much-needed action to improve Chicago’s water infrastructure.

The study, Restoring the Natural Divide, offers real alternatives to simply closing the locks between the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.  Authored by the Great Lakes Commission and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, the report shows that it is possible to stop aquatic invaders like Asian carp while enhancing transportation and stormwater management and improving water quality.

While Asian carp have been the public face of invasive species, they are among 39 species deemed “high risk” by the Army Corps of Engineers based on a propensity to invade and to inflict significant damage to new habitat.

Local and Federal Governments currently spend upwards of $200 million per year to control invasive species in the Great Lakes. Ending the continuing threat of transfer of these aquatic invaders through the Chicago River system will be essential to the region’s long-term economic well-being, and would complement plans for river restoration, increasing the value of Chicago’s second waterfront.

Restoring the Natural Divide not only provides valuable information for stakeholders working to improve the Chicago River system, but could inform and expedite the Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS), the Army Corps’ study of threats from invasive species.

“At last someone has identified solutions to the Asian Carp threat that will protect the Great Lakes and improve the Chicago River,” said Jack Darin, director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter. “In Illinois we love both Lake Michigan and our rivers, and these are smart ideas that can work to protect and improve both. We urge the Army Corps and other leaders to study these solutions in more detail quickly, so we can get to work improving these waters for everyone’s benefit.”

To find out more about the study visit: http://www.glc.org/caws/

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