The Corp of Engineers has released a report stating that it is possible to once again separate the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River. One of the driving forces behind the study was the desire to protect the waterways from invasive species, especially to protect the Great Lakes from the Asian carp that have invaded the Mississippi River.
The Chicago canal system would have to be overhauled. As a corollary, Chicago would need to upgrade its wastewater treatment system. The Chicago canal was built in part to send the city’s wastewater down to the Mississippi River rather than into Lake Michigan. If the basins were separated, Chicago would need to discharge some of its wastewater into the lake.
The price tag for the project could be as high as $9.5 billion. Given the value of fishing, sports and tourism on the Great Lakes, it may be worth it.
The Corp is also looking at flood protection on the Mississippi River. Levees damaged by floods in 2011, or even purposefully breeched to protect other levees, may leave those areas vulnerable to flooding again this year. Congress appropriated $802 million for levee repairs.
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