Keeping the Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes via Chicago area waterways would cost $3 billion and would take 10 years to complete, according to a privately funded study commissioned by several foundations. The $2 million study proposes building from one to five barriers near Chicago, rerouting cargo and pleasure boats, and diverting floodwaters from going into Lake Michigan by building tunnels and sending the water elsewhere.
The federal government has spent more than $80 million to fight the Asian carp in the last two years, according to USA Today, and $20 million is spent each year to fend off the sea lamprey, another invasive species in the area. The study points out that Congress would have to fund the building of the barriers as well as the tunnels that would reroute floodwaters. The proposal calls for rerouting barge traffic and requiring boat lifts for pleasure boats and tour boats, which currently easily enter Lake Michigan from docks and marinas south of Chicago. This practice would end.
There are concerns among those in the scientific community that if the Asian carp were to get into the Great Lakes, irreversible and expensive damage would occur. Barge operators and tour boat captains believe this proposed solution is ludicrous, saying that there are 18 other waterways into the Great Lakes that the Asian carp could potentially use to gain entry into the water system.
Shutting down this one multibillion-dollar transportation route does not even address the 18 other waterways in and out of the Great Lakes that could serve as entry points for invasive species, Mark Biel, executive director of Unlock Our Jobs told USA Today. Calling this a solution is ludicrous. Unlock our Jobs is a coalition of barge operators and others who are against any changes to Chicago’s waterways.
An Army Corps study backs the claim of the tour boat and barge operators, citing more than 12 waterways that could be used by the carp to get into the Great Lakes. The Army Corps is conducting its own study, due out in 2015, on how to stop invasive species from entering into the Great Lakes. Its study will also feature separating the waterways.