Circle of Blue: Chicago Waterways are Invasive Species' Best Friend

Once Upon A TimeThe Glen Arbor Sun reprinted a story from Traverse City based Circle of Blue that looks at how Chicago’s waterways enable the spread of invasive species. The invasive zebra mussels, discovered in the Great Lakes in 1988 entered the Mississippi via the waterways and have now spread as far west as California and cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in the U.S. every year by fouling the pipes that deliver fresh water to municipal drinking water facilities and power plants.

“We should expect that for many species, the Chicago Area Waterway System is still a very viable conduit,” Keller said. “There’s still a very high likelihood of future invasions, future economic and ecological impacts.”

This is one of the reasons why the Alliance for the Great Lakes supports the permanent hydrological separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River Basin, said Joel Brammeier, the organization’s president.

“Asian carp are only the latest and certainly the most graphic example,” Brammeier said. “But as Dr. Keller mentioned, we’ve already donated zebra mussels and round goby to the Mississippi River Basin, something that I don’t think the other half of the continental United States is too happy about. We can certainly count today half a dozen other invaders in either direction that could move through this system.”

He added, “No technology solution has been demonstrated to be able to provide the kind of certainty against invasion that we think the Great Lakes deserve.

Read the rest, and if you’re not familiar with Circle of Blue (founded by Leelanau native J. Carl Ganter), we very much encourage you to put it on your reading list!

Photo credit: “Once Upon A Time by Live Inspired Photography