Separating the Basins & Jean Klock Park

  • The report outlines three possible scenarios for physical separation of the Great Lakes basin and the Mississippi River system. (Graphic courtesy of Great Lakes Commission)

Asian carp have been making their way up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers toward the Great Lakes for decades.

A coalition of U.S. and Canadian mayors says the solution is to physically separate the Great Lakes basin from the Mississippi River system forever. In other words… they want to completely stop the flow of water between the two systems to permanently block carp from swimming up into Lake Michigan… and stop any kind of invaders from moving between the basins.

A new report out today outlines how that massive separation might happen.

Tim Eder is the executive director of the Great Lakes Commission. His group put out the report, along with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. The report identifies three different places on the Chicago waterway system where a physical separation could be put in place.

“It’s just putting some sheet piling, some metal and earth and concrete in the river to make a dam, basically.”

But the manmade system of canals in the Chicago area has been in place for a century. Eder says there are a lot of people who depend on the waterway system as it is now.

“The river in Chicago now serves some really important purposes for managing floodwater, for dealing with wastewater, and for transportation. Commercial transportation depends on that waterway, so our options propose solutions to maintain and even enhance all of those existing important uses of the waterway.”

Physical separation would not be cheap. The report estimates the different options could cost between three billion and 9.5 billion dollars.

Tim Eder says construction of a barrier is at least ten years away. Some scientists worry Asian carp could be established in Lake Michigan by then.

Read the report: Restoring the Natural Divide


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This is the Environment Report.

A legal battle over a golf course built partially on dune land in Benton Harbor might have ended this month. Lindsey Smith reports a ruling handed down by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals comes four years after the first lawsuit was filed:

90 acres of land along the Lake Michigan shore were donated nearly a century ago to the City of Benton Harbor for public recreation. It’s called Jean Klock Park. In 2008, city leaders agreed to lease 22 acres of Jean Klock Park to a non-profit developer known as Harbor Shores. The developer converted the land into 3 holes of a Jack Nicklaus golf course.

A group of citizens filed a federal lawsuit claiming environmental rules were violated when the golf course was built. They believe the violations are egregious enough that the lease should be renegotiated or terminated.

Terry Lodge represents the group of citizens who brought the federal lawsuit. He notes that lease between the city and Harbor Shores acknowledges the possibility that the course could be restored to natural dunes and beaches.

“It says that if the deal ever falls through or Harbor Shores runs out of money or something that they will restore the park to and I don’t know how they would exactly do this but they would restore the park to what it formerly was.”

But the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling last week that said because the golf course is already built the judges cannot really do anything about it.

Jeff Noel is President of Harbor Shores.

“At every level of the court system, the courts have overwhelmingly ruled in our favor and I hope that helps make people feel better that we have adhered to a fair open and honest legal system to review what has been done in the past.”

Noel says the golf course and surrounding housing development will provide a long-term economic boost to a city that’s desperate for jobs.

The group could appeal the federal ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. They have less than two months to make a decision.

For the Environment Report, I’m Lindsey Smith.