Illinois Coalition Formed To Stop Asian Carp, Protect And Improve State’s Waters
October 25, 2012 03:42 PM
Joyce grantees among organizations to form Healthy Water Solutions to address need for waterway improvements to aquatic invasive species.
More than a dozen Illinois organizations, including Joyce grantees Alliance for the Great Lakes, National Wildlife Federation and Natural Resources Defense Council, have formed Healthy Water Solutions, a new coalition committed to stopping the two-way transfer of aquatic invasive species – such as Asian carp – between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin.
“HWS exists to complement the work of federal and state agencies, while recognizing the importance of local action to help move issues like invasive species forward when they are stalled by outside forces,” Jared Teutsch of the Alliance for the Great Lakes said. “We encourage the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago and other governmental groups to work with the rest of the region to fashion a modern solution to the growing problems of invasive species and decaying water infrastructure.”
Protecting the lakes from aquatic invasive species is an economic as well as an environmental issue. Invasive species cost the economy hundreds of millions annually. The spread of invasives such as Asian carp threaten the $7 billion a year Great Lakes fishing industry, billions more in revenue generated through tourism and recreation, and the drinking water 35 million Americans rely on every day.
The Joyce Foundation Environment Program addresses three interconnected issues: preventing the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species; eliminating polluted runoff from cities and farms; and advancing and defending key state, regional, and federal Great Lakes policies and funding.
In January 2012, The Great lakes Commission and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative released the results of a Joyce-supported study that showed physical separation between the lakes and the Mississippi river is an economically viable permanent solution to protect the lakes from aquatic invasive species. Similar to that study, HWS envisions the Chicago River as a system that not only prevents the transfer of all aquatic invaders, including Asian carp, but better serves its functions of moving people and goods and managing stormwater -- all while improving water quality.