Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014
By Seth Stapleton Tribune Staff Writer
BAD AXE — U.S. Rep Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, has proposed legislation that would order the federal government to cut off links in Chicago waterways between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River system to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp and other invasive species.
At Tuesday morning’s Huron County Commissioner’s Committee Meeting of the Whole, commissioner David Peruski spoke of the need to come up with a resolution to support that bill.
“I think we kind of need to support that effort,” Peruski said. “Any other effort — more than likely — would allow the fish through.”
The bill introduced by Miller would authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct barriers in rivers and canals, that were reconfigured more than a century ago, to connect the two giant watersheds. That project boosted waterborne commerce but created a pathway through which fish, mussels and other aquatic animals and plants could stake out new territories and compete with native species.
In a report last month, the Army Corps presented eight options for dealing with the problem. The 232-page report outlined the plans — which ranged from doing nothing to stop the spread of the fish, all the way to creating a complete separation of the two water systems. The separation of the two watersheds carries an estimated price tag of at least $15 billion and a 25-year timetable for completion.
The largest detractor of Miller’s proposed legislation is the state of Illinois, which has resisted calls to change the canal and to erect physical barriers to separate Lake Michigan from the City of Chicago’s waterways. The city has stressed the legislation as too expensive and harmful to commercial shipping.
However, it also has plenty of support.
Commissioner Ron Wruble said that Miller has already received the support of the Province of Ontario and the provincial government of Canada.
“They have no skin in the game, other than the fact that they don’t want the fish in the lakes either,” Wruble said.
If enacted, Miller’s bill would require the Army Corps to begin designing a separation project within 180 days. When finished, the agency would then have 180 days to begin construction