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Envisioning a Chicago Area Waterway System for the 21st Century
The Great Lakes Commission (GLC) and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI) are leading an initiative to develop and evaluate scenarios for separating the Mississippi River and Great Lakes watersheds to prevent the transfer of aquatic invasive species (AIS), with a focus on the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). Such a separation should also maintain, if not improve, other aspects of the system including the movement of goods and people, water quality and stormwater management. With support from a team of consultants, the project will provide a detailed evaluation of potential scenarios for separation, including their costs, benefits and impacts. It will advance two strategic objectives:
Key products will include a comprehensive report, a series of supporting technical sub-documents, and a clear and concise summary for a lay audience. The project will include an extensive effort to engage users of the waterway in the Chicago area, including those who currently depend on current uses of the waterways for commercial and recreational transportation, stormwater and wastewater management. The goal of the project is to demonstrate to Great Lakes policy leaders, including federal officials, that separation is feasible, practical, and effective by illustrating and analyzing realistic options to achieve it.
This collaborative initiative has received full funding of $2 million from six regional funding entities: the Joyce Foundation, the C.S. Mott Foundation, the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, the Great Lakes Protection Fund, the Wege Foundation and the Frey Foundation.
For more information, please refer review the following:
Peer Review Summary Reports: A Peer Review Team was convened twice to review the progress on the project. A purposefully diverse group of experts was selected to provide input to the project from wide perspectives. The reports from those sessions are provided below.
In October 2011, the Great Lakes Commission and Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative held a series of Public Meetings to present information and gather input on this project. Please refer to the following documents for more information.
Advisory Committee Information
An Advisory Committee has been convened to provide guidance and input on the project, with an emphasis on developing and evaluating options for separation. It includes stakeholders from the Great Lakes region, with an emphasis on interest groups in the Chicago area. In addition, a Resource Group made up of governmental and quasi governmental entities with a direct interest in the project has also been formed. The Resource Group will observe and be aware of project proceedings; provide information about related proceedings for which they have responsibility; and provide other input that will inform the project and help achieve a successful outcome.
Four in person meetings of the Advisory Committee will occur during the project. More information on these meetings, including agendas and presentations, are provided below.
Advisory Committee Meeting: October 21, 2010
Advisory Committee Meeting: February 16, 2011
Advisory Committee Meeting and Boat Tour: June 28-29, 2011
Advisory Committee Meeting: October 19, 2011
For more than a decade federal and state agencies have taken action to prevent Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan. More than 180 non-native aquatic species have become established in the Great Lakes, causing economic losses estimated at $5.7 billion annually. Asian carp are only the latest—and potentially the most damaging—invasive species poised to invade the Great Lakes. Because they are highly mobile, reproduce quickly and consume massive quantities of food, Asian carp could have devastating impacts on the Great Lakes and threaten the region’s sport fishing industry, valued at $7 billion annually. Similarly, invasive species from the Great Lakes—such as zebra mussels and round gobies—have damaged the Mississippi River ecosystem.
Many observers agree that ecologically separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds is the preferred permanent, long-term solution to protect these two great watersheds from the transfer of all aquatic invasive species between the basins, not just Asian carp. Separation would avoid continued reliance on control measures that, eventually, will fail, while at the same time accommodating the substantial benefits currently provided by the Chicago Area Waterways System. If done properly, it will also provide more efficient transportation of commercial goods, improved treatment for wastewater and stormwater and restoration of an urban waterway system.
For more information on related and supporting efforts, please refer to the following:
Do you have a question or comment regarding this initiative? Please click here to submit your input. For information on current, ongoing Asian carp prevention and control activities, please refer to asiancarp.org.