Russian Roulette with a Carp

Today, we have a temporary solution to a permanent problem posed by Asian Carp that are threatening to enter the Great Lakes via the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. At the cost of $9 million dollars Congress has an electric barrier built to keep the massive, hungry creatures out of the Great Lakes ecosystem. Congress is contemplating spending more money on an old fashioned solution – sand bagging – the banks of the Des Plaines River so the fish would not be delivered into the lakes during the next flood. Now, last week, the powers that be decided to spend $1.5 million on a fish poison that will be dumped along six miles of the canal on the outskirts of Chicago.

Twenty-in-a-half million dollars later we have to ask: are we throwing good money after bad? Not only that, but who relishes the idea of putting poison in the water? Ugh. Additionally, the barrier will need to be shut down every six months for maintenance, so, I guess we plan on continuing this process relentlessly. Wouldn’t it be a better solution to physically separate the Great Lakes basin from the Mississippi basin?

“We need to look at slamming the door on the Asian carp once and for all, and that means separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds,” said Andy Bauchsbaum, Co-chair of HOW. “Until then, we are playing Russian Roulette with the largest freshwater resource in the world. And that does not make any sense.”

Last year, the Alliance for the Great Lakes published a report that recommended separating the two watersheds. Right now, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi are artificially connected via the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Although it seemed like a good idea a century ago to drive the wastewater from the big city away from the Lake, that was before the Asian Carp were set loose in the waterways of the Southern States.

“If the carp get in, it will be catastrophic,” Great Lakes Point Man, Cam Davis told the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal.

Joel Brammeier at the Alliance is urging for the separation of the watersheds so that we aren’t backed into a corner again by the carp. “When the deed is done, we’ve got to focus like a laser on separation of the lakes from the Mississippi River so we don’t have to use this drastic technique in the future,” he stated.

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