The Chicago Area Waterway System

boats007The Chicago Area Waterway System has been a pathway for the spread of invasive species, including the Asian Carp, which could damage the Great Lakes and Mississippi watersheds, impacting both ecologies and economies.

Greenleaf Advisors was invited to write a strategy paper for the Great Lakes Cities Initiative that led to the convening of a multidisciplinary team of experts to analyze options for separating the watersheds to prevent the spread of invasive species. This ongoing effort, led by the Great Lakes Commission and Great Lakes Cities Initiatives, aims to address multiple interests including transportation, water quality and flood management aspects of the system. The engagement with key stakeholders led to a more informed assessment of impacts and investments needed to progress the idea of basin separation.

Six potential barrier locations were selected and assembled into three potential solutions and evaluated for impacts to the economy, ecology and hydrology. A suite of capital infrastructure investments has been identified to improve the Chicago Area Waterway System services to the region. This effort in turn has informed a study by the Army Corps of Engineers, in response to a Congressional mandate, to further infrastructure improvements that help abate the threat of invasives on the ecology and economy of the Great Lakes region.

Greenleaf Advisors’ experience and expertise on the Great Lakes region, environmental matters and infrastructure, together with its ability to engage across sectors of society, positioned the firm well to lead the stakeholder engagement process as well as contribute to the lead contractor’s, HDR Engineering, discovery of viable solutions to the core problem.