CHICAGO, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report suggests undoing the connection between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River through Chicago to block Asian carp.
The Sanitary and Ship Canal, completed in 1900 and named a Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium in 1999, allowed ships -- and marine plants and animals -- to pass between the two watersheds. Now, experts fear the voracious carp, escapees from fish farms in the Mississippi watershed, could wipe out native fish in the Great Lakes if they establish themselves there.
The plan to completely separate the watersheds again would take about 25 years and cost $18 billion, the Chicago Tribune reported. Another of the eight options listed in the report issued Monday would change the flow of the canal and the Chicago River so that they go into Lake Michigan and has a price tag estimated at $15 million.
Many officials believe a shorter-term, cheaper method is needed.
"I've seen too many of these long-term Corps projects languish for years and fall victim to congressional inaction," U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said. "We can't gamble with the threat of Asian carp or risk severe flood damage to the Chicago metropolitan area by pursing a risky plan at the expense of our current efforts."
One thing no one knows is whether the carp are already in the Great Lakes. Carp DNA has been found there but it could have been deposited in the feces of birds that have eaten the fish.