Healthy Water Solutions Welcomes Opportunity to Implement Invasive Species Solution

Today the Army Corps of Engineers released its Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS), the congressionally mandated report on how to prevent the movement of aquatic invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins, focusing on the Chicago Waterways.

Healthy Water Solutions will be evaluating the report to see how it can help the region move toward implementing the best, permanent solution to the aquatic transfer of invasive species like Asian carp—a physical barrier separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Illinois has a golden opportunity to take leadership of the solution and create a water system that enhances our environment, economy and quality of life.

The report concludes that separation is feasible, while flagging potential costs and impacts. GLMRIS thus is consistent with an independent study completed in January 2012, which demonstrated that physical separation is not only achievable, but a necessary and logical part of a suite of improvements that would make life better in Illinois and throughout the Great Lakes and Mississippi River regions by enhancing flood protection, water quality, and transportation, and spurring economic development. We are mindful that separation won’t happen overnight, but believe that the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Recent studies demonstrate that the electric barrier—currently the last line of defense against the movement of Asian carp into the Great Lakes—is highly flawed. Fish can breach the barrier aided by passing ships, with small fish able to swim by in schools. Further, this barrier does not prevent the transfer of dozens of other invasive species in both directions. These studies reveal the inadequacy of the status quo and the need to take prompt action on separation.

Now that the report is out we can move forward to work with local and regional leaders to design separation scenarios that also solve localized problems such as flooding, deteriorating freight transport, and poor water quality.

Healthy Water Solutions is committed to this vision for our waters and communities, and will continue to work with leaders in Illinois to make that vision a reality.

As we begin to assess the wealth of information in this report, we plan to release more detailed comment prior to the first GLMRIS public meeting scheduled for January 9th, at 4pm in Chicago. For more information about the report and the upcoming public meetings, see:

Healthy Water Solutions is a coalition of Illinois stakeholders working to bring our state’s water infrastructure into the 21st century. We have a vision of clean rivers and lakes supporting sustainable economies and healthy ecosystems. Healthy Water Solutions is working to stop the transfer of aquatic invasive species throughout Illinois by restoring the natural separation between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. Separation is just one piece of a greater plan for improved water quality, flood control, recreation and transportation in Illinois.

Members of Healthy Water Solutions

Alliance for the Great lakes — Natural Resources Defense Council — Friends of the Chicago River — Prairie Rivers Network — Sierra Club of Illinois — Environment Illinois — National Wildlife Federation — Illinois Smallmouth Alliance — Trout Unlimited, Illinois Council — Illinois Paddling Council — Izaak Walton League of America — Openlands — The League of Women Voters of Illinois — Faith in Place — City of Plano, Illinois — Dirk’s Fish — Lower Des Plaines Ecosystem Partnership — Freshwater Future


Posted January 6, 2014