Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s recent comment that separating Lake Michigan from the Mississippi River basin is the “ultimate solution” to keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes could be a game-changer.
Quinn made his comments at the Council of Great Lakes Governors 2013 Leadership Summit, which was held May 31 through June 2 on Mackinac Island. His comments prompted loud applause from the crowd of about 200 people at the summit, according to a report in Crain’s Detroit Business.
I was fortunate enough to be in the audience when Gov. Quinn made his stunning pronouncement, and it felt like I was hearing history in the making. The governor’s comments were enormously significant because Illinois and Indiana will play huge roles in deciding what long-term approach is used to keep Asian carp in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers from invading Lake Michigan and spreading to the other Great Lakes.
Gov. Quinn later told me that he believes the Lake Michigan and Mississippi River basins can be separated in a way that protects transportation and commerce while halting the movement of invasive species between the two basins via manmade canals in the Chicago Area Waterways System.
“We have to think big,” he said. “There are technological challenges but we are the country that built the Panama Canal and, during the Great Depression, the Bonneville Dam and Tennessee Valley Authority.”
Kudos to Gov. Quinn for his bold stance and for showing leadership on the Asian carp issue.