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Illinois lawmaker questions other states' AGs who want to close Illinois River

Illinois Watchdog.Org

Friday, December 22, 2017  |  Article  |  By Benjamin Yount

Floods (42) , Natural resources (23) , Rivers (23) Rezin, Sue--State Senate 38
A state senator from an Illinois river community has some problems with leaders from other states who want to close the Illinois River to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

Morris Republican Sue Rezin has fought floods her entire time in the legislature. She said the attorneys general in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota must not understand much about floods. Those AG's want to wall off the Illinois River near Joliet to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

"You always need to be cognizent of what's happening upstream from you," Rezin said Monday. "Also, if you dam up the river, what will it do to the ecosystem in the river?"

Rezin answered her own question. She said it would spill the river south, into communities up and down the banks. Illinois has spent a lot of time and money on flood mitigation along the Illinois River. She said a dam would erase all of that work.

And, Rezin added, there are hundreds of millions of dollars in grain and other products that rely on the river.

"You'll notice all of these industries that have popped up along the river. They use the river as a mode of transportation, it's by far the cheapest and most inexpensive mode of transportation," Rezin said. "If you simply build a wall near Joliet, all of that river commerce would be forced to cease."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a plan to protect the lakes. The Corps wants to install an electronic barrier near Joliet, but it's expensive. The total cost would be nearly $300 million and Illinois would have to pay almost a third of it.

But Rezin thinks that expense may not be necessary. She said that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has done an effective job over the past few years in controlling the carp population in the upper Illinois River.