In 1900, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal opened. The city of Chicago’s namesake river was reversed to pull water out of Lake Michigan and flush the population’s effluent down the new canal and into the Mississippi River. The canal was designed to also serve as a navigable waterway to enable goods to be shipped from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.
This waterway has become a vector for invasive species. Asian carp, now common in the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois Rivers, are now threatening to invade the Great Lakes. Closing the locks on the canal to block the carp would impede commerce but possibly save the seven billion dollar fishery. This is the story of a river in reverse.