A new study shows that physically blocking the Chicago Area Water System—the man-made connection between the Mississippi River basin and the Great Lakes—is a feasible solution to prevent Asian carp from infiltrating into Lake Michigan. But a long-term solution is years off and could cost billions. Meanwhile, the invasive species edges ever closer to Lake Michigan.
The $1-million study—commissioned by the Great Lakes Commission and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative and conducted by Omaha-based HDR—presented three options for separating the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River via the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). Costs range from $3.3 billion to $9.5 billion. Any of the three options would create a huge civil-works construction project, officials say. But those same officials say the projects would not break ground for at least 10 years and not be complete until 2029.