CHICAGO (WBBM) – Environmental engineers think a pair of dams, along with rain barrels, wetlands and lots of trees would keep Asian Carp out of Lake Michigan, alleviate basement flooding and clean up the Chicago River system at the same time.
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The proposal comes from the Natural Resources Defense Council Midwest Office where Director Henry Henderson says Chicago’s 100-year-old river system has turned into a superhighway for invasive species.
Henderson says the two dams would keep invasive species out of Lake Michigan. He says the Chicago River–whose flow was reversed more than a century ago–can’t be turned around to flow back into Lake Michigan until after the city’s sewage treatment is vastly improved.
Henderson says the proposal would have Shaw Environmental Engineering put dams at the Racine Pumping Station on Ashland, and near the Calumet Wastewater Treatment facility at 131st and the Cal Sag Channel.
Henderson describes the Chicago River as an open sewer, a gateway for invasive species, and a source of constant flooding for Chicago basements.
He said the two dams along with natural water control devices like widespread use of rain barrels, wetlands, bioswales (landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water) and intensive tree plantings would go a long way towards preventing storm runoff from polluting the river.
The two-dam idea would still allow recreational and tourism boats to travel freely in and out of Lake
Michigan, according to Henderson. He says the whole idea of river barge and ship traffic would have to be reexamined to integrate it better with rail and truck traffic already flowing through the region.
Henderson says he has no price tag yet on the plan.