As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers turns on a third electric barrier in an attempt to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, an interesting twist is occurring in Chicago, where this problem originated more than a century ago.
As the Journal Sentinel reports, the city’s environment commissioner is critical of the Corps’ timeline for studying how to keep the exotic species out of the lakes, where they could devastate a billion-dollar sport fishery.
"The proposed timeline for the study is too long," she wrote to the Corps on March 25. "The threat of Asian carp has been known for more than a decade. It is not acceptable to wait another five years for solutions. We urge the Corps to speed up this timeline to every extent possible."
More than a century ago, the barrier between the Great lakes and the Mississippi River basin was destroyed so that Chicago could flush its wastes downstream instead of into the Lake Michigan, near its drinking water intake pipes.
The connection since has turned into a highway for commercial navigation, and many in Chicago, along with their friends in Washington, D.C., have opposed closing it to keep carp out of the Great Lakes and other invasives from moving out into the Mississippi and its tributaries. Their argument has been that the aquatic highway is too important to commerce to destroy.
But mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel said this:
"Invasive species are a significant and immediate threat, and separation of the watersheds is an important opportunity to invest in and improve the environment, our infrastructure and our economy.
"We cannot go slow or take a wait and see approach. The study must be expedited."