TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Groups representing states and cities in the Great Lakes region proposed spending up to $9.5 billion to separate the lakes from the Mississippi River watershed in the Chicago area, describing it as the only sure way to protect both aquatic systems from invasions by destructive species such as Asian carp.
The organizations issued a report today suggesting three alternatives for severing a century-old artificial link between the two drainage basins. Scientists say it has already provided a pathway for exotic species and is the likeliest route through which menacing carp could reach the lakes.
“We simply can’t afford to risk that,” said Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission, which sponsored the study with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.
The report’s release is sure to ramp up pressure on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is conducting its own study of how to close off 18 potential pathways between the two systems. The corps plans to release its findings in late 2015. A pending federal lawsuit by five states – Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania – demands quicker action.