The Chicago Area Waterway System, a series of canals and rivers in and near Chicago, is a manmade connection of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. The waterway is a vibrant transportation corridor, a route for pleasure boats, and a water management system; any study, as is the case with this bill, must take transportation, economic, and water management factors into account. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission and many others have repeatedly identified separation as the only viable way to permanently address the invasive species problem caused by that direct link between the two basins. In March, 2010, citizen advisors to the commission -- from both Canada and the United States -- passed a joint resolution making the same recommendation. The legislation complements efforts underway by the Great Lakes Commission and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative to investigate ways to achieve separation.
Commissioner Michael Hansen, a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point said, "This important legislation directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to apply their considerable engineering expertise to answer a complex question: how do you achieve ecological separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi basins in the Chicago Area? This legislation, if enacted, would significantly expedite the process to identify the ways to achieve separation."