Despite positive findings, the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee announced yesterday it would intensify monitoring of the Chicago Area Waterway System for the invasive species. The new study will require intense scrutiny of the North Shore Channel.
“After three consecutive rounds of environmental DNA sampling yielded positive results for Asian carp DNA in the North Shore Channel,” a release yesterday says, “the ARCC will conduct intensive monitoring in a six mile stretch of the Chicago River.”
“While the science still does not tell us whether eDNA is from a live fish, a dead fish, or another source, finding three consecutive sets of positive samples triggers us to use significant resources to determine whether any Asian carp are present,” said John Goss, Asian Carp Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
The North Shore Channel, part of the CAWS, intersects the North Branch of the Chicago River in River Park near North Park University’s Holmgren Athletic Complex on Foster. Water in the channel is drawn in part from a Lake Michigan harbor located in Wilmette near the Bahá’í Temple.
The 7.5 mile channel was created between 1907 and 1910 in an effort to prevent sewerage effluent from backing up into the sometimes sluggish North Branch.
At times, according to National Resources Defense Council, water flow in the river consists entirely of effluent. The channel receives its effluent flow from the North Side Water Reclamation Plant located near Howard Street and McCormick Blvd in Skokie.
The channel is among a number of artificial paths between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Although Asian Carp are breeding in the Mississippi drainage, they are not yet breeding in the Great Lakes, according to government studies.
Worries about the carp reaching the Great Lakes have led to 2009 law suits by Michigan and other states, requesting the connecting waterways be blocked immediately.
Friends of the Chicago River notes on their web site “the Chicago River is an economic engine that is just gearing up, and as such we must continue to advocate for scenarios that protect it and its users.”
The group dismisses plans block the two drainage basins. “The only way to make something this radical realistic is to take all the other issues into account. We have to take care of shipping. We have to take care of flooding. We have to finish TARP. We must protect water quality and the people who use the river on either side of any barrier. Without that, implementing any plan becomes improbable or impossible.”
The ACRCC notes in its release “the threat of Asian carp to the Great Lakes has generated an urgent and committed government response.” The responses have included a physical barrier along the Des Plaines River, electric barriers in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and the monitoring program.