In 1900 a series of canals were dug to reverse the Chicago River and send the city’s sewage to the Mississippi River instead of into Lake Michigan. Since that time many environmental groups have called for the ecological separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River basin to retain Great Lakes water in the Great Lakes basin. It is estimated that the Chicago diversion has lowered lakes Michigan and Huron by three inches.
Just last year President George W. Bush signed The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact which bans almost all diversions of the Great Lake’s water out of the basin, with Chicago given the only significant exemption. About 1 percent of the Great Lakes water is replenished each year, and advocates worry that unchecked diversions could slowly drain the lakes.
The Suit, which was filed on December 21, 2009, challenges both the further invasion of the Asian Carpe along with the withdrawal of up to 2 billion gallons of water a day from Lake Michigan. “It’s a matter of self-defense economically and ecologically for Michigan” said Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox.
"They've been saying they have this under control, but they really don't, and they're going back to the status quo," said John Sellek, a spokesman for the Michigan attorney general. "Their primary interest is keeping the waterway open, keeping that barge traffic on the canals. But Michigan's interest is far larger than that. The Great Lakes fishing industry is worth $7 billion all by itself, let alone the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are connected to the Great Lakes."
The CSSC is currently the only freight connection between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes, so closing the canal would mean re-routing about 250,000 tractor trailer’s worth of goods from the canal annually. But national environmental groups say the potential economic impact of Asian Carp and other invasive species in the Great Lakes make freight reconfiguration worth the cost.
"This way of moving goods may have made sense in the 19th century or 50 years ago, but are we still dependent on those same decisions?" asked Henry Henderson, NRDC Midwest program director. "We built a system without understanding the full implications. Now we have to design and build an engineered solution to a human-created problem."
An ecological separation would probably mean Chicago would have to revamp its wastewater infrastructure. The Natural Resource Defense Council has proposed that an environmentally sustainable intermodal freight facility be built to replace barge traffic into the lake, creating "green jobs" and curbing the invasive species risk.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts on this topic below in the comments section or in the forums. We here at yakangler.com feel that fisherman can greatly help the situation of Asian Carp and would love to hear your thoughts.