Carp invasion may force remodel of South Side
Fish may change the face of Chicago as we know it.
Some people eat carp but apparently we should be eating more. The fish are taking over Chicago’s waterways and they have no natural predators. The carp issue is combining with wastewater problems and turning the south end of Chicago into a cesspool.
Projects like this are usually left in the capable hands of the Army Corps of Engineers. Their hands, however, have been idle. There were a series of proposals through the National Resource Defense Council in 2010 but Congress did not give the Army Corps the go-ahead to act on the plans (and the Army Corps didn’t push for action, either).
Enter Jeanne Gang, architect and recipient of the MacArthur genius grant by day, eco-warrior by night. Gang is a common name in the Chicago architectural scene. She recently submitted a proposal for the Ford Calumet Environmental Center. Gang plans to use local, salvaged industrial materials to construct the building and a manmade wetland to filter wastewater.
After hearing about the fish invasion, Gang honed in on the problem. Like a pro, she used Google Earth for her preliminary research into the South Side. Ideas for a hydrological barrier took shape. The barrier would create an inland lagoon; carp don’t like lagoons (?!) and the new barrier would serve as a deterrent for them.
Gang is also pushing for a new water treatment system that would return cleaned water to Lake Michigan.
For either idea to pass, Gang and her team must convince Congress to give the Army Corps of Engineers the green light to bring her plans to fruition. Getting Congress to do anything these days is an uphill battle. “Ecological problems in Chicago? Ba humbug! Let them eat carp!” The South Side shall remain unchanged, for now.