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Official Press Release/ HWS


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Dear member of Healthy Water Solutions,

Yesterday marked our official public launch. Enclosed you will find our press release. So far the response has been very positive, with stories on about 20 different news sites around the region. Additionally, HWS was featured in a story on WBEZ in Chicago.

 

Thank you very much for your support, and we hope this is just the beginning of great things to come.

 

Best,

 

 

Robert Hirschfeld Water Policy Specialist, Prairie Rivers Network

Tel: 217-344-2371

www.prairierivers.org I twitter I facebook

 

Illinois coalition formed to stop Asian carp, protect and improve state’s waters

Healthy Water Solutions addresses need for waterway improvements to stop invasives

 

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ILLINOIS -- More than a dozen Illinois organizations today announced the formation of a new coalition committed to stopping the two-way transfer of invasive species -- including Asian carp -- between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin.

 

“Stopping Asian carp and other invasive species is an economic and ecological imperative,” said Robert Hirschfeld of Prairie Rivers Network, a founding member of the new Healthy Water Solutions coalition. “But it is also just one piece of a greater plan for improved water quality, flood control, recreation and transportation in Illinois.”

HWS was formed in response to the need for Illinois residents and organizations to promote locally focused solutions, rather than wait for federal agencies and regionally contentious lawsuits.

 

“HWS exists to complement the work of federal and state agencies, while recognizing the importance of local action to help move issues like invasive species forward when they are stalled by outside forces,” said Jared Teutsch of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, also a HWS coalition member. “We encourage the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago and other governmental groups to work with the rest of the region to fashion a modern solution to the growing problems of invasive species and decaying water infrastructure.”

 

The new coalition will advocate for reinvestment in the Chicago River system, a critical piece of infrastructure that affects the waters of the entire state.

“The Chicago River system can be so much more than a conduit for our wastewater,” said Jack Darin, director of the Sierra Club’s Illinois Chapter. “The threat posed by the Asian carp and other aquatic invaders is also an opportunity to restore the Chicago River and make it a clean, healthy resource that attracts wildlife, people and economic development.”

Invasive species protection promises to provide benefits to Chicago and Lake Michigan, as well as businesses and communities around the state.

 

“The city of Plano is the corporate home and birthplace of Plano Molding Co., the largest manufacturer of fishing tackle storage systems,” said Bob Hausler, who is that city’s mayor. “As the mayor of Plano and a professional fisherman, I feel it is imperative we protect our waterways from all invasive species.”

 

Invasive species cost the economy hundreds of millions annually. The spread of Asian carp threatens the Great Lakes fishery -- calculated at $7 billion annually, with billions more generated through tourism and recreation.

 

"At 95,000 square miles, the largest surface area of freshwater in the world is in peril,” said Mike Clifford of the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance. “Time is of the essence to make certain the critical environmental and economic resources of this region are provided the common-sense solutions the basin’s 35 million people are counting on."

 

Though Asian carp are the public face of invasive species, they are among 39 species labeled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as “high-risk” to transfer between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins and inflict significant damage to new habitat.

“We know the carp are just a symptom of the much larger problem of invasive species, some of which are relatively benign but, over time, do very serious damage by slowly eliminating natives,” said Tom Lindblade, president and safety chairman of the Illinois Paddling Council. “The Asian carp have brought needed attention to this problem.”

HWS re-envisions the Chicago River as a system that not only prevents the transfer of all aquatic invaders, including Asian carp, but better serves its functions of moving people and goods and managing stormwater -- all while improving water quality.

"Chicago and the rest of the region will not thrive until we address its failing water infrastructure," said Henry Henderson, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Midwest Program and a former commissioner of the environment for the city of Chicago. "Re-imagining Chicago's waterways is at the core of the vision that the HWS coalition will bring to help move us all toward a modern system that enhances our environment, economy and quality of life."

 

“The Chicago River is the lifeblood of the city,” said Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River. “And it flows through so many urban and suburban communities playing the role of natural and recreational resource and catalyst for community revitalization. Through HWS we are committed to improving and protecting the Chicago River at the same time we solve the aquatic invasive species problems we face.”

 

HWS will work with the region’s leaders on a plan for separation that satisfies public needs without severing Chicago’s vital connection to the lake.

 

Supporters can sign up as members on HWS’ website.

 

Website: www.healthywatersolutions.org

Twitter: @H2O_Solutions

Facebook: www.facebook.com/healthywatersolutions

Current members of Healthy Water Solutions:

 

Alliance for the Great Lakes

City of Plano, Illinois

Dirk’s Fish

Environment Illinois

Faith in Place

Friends of the Chicago River

Illinois Paddling Council

Illinois Smallmouth Alliance

Izaak Walton League of America

League of Women Voters of Illinois

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council

Prairie Rivers Network

Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter

Trout Unlimited, Illinois Council

Contacts:

Robert Hirschfeld: rhirschfeld@prairierivers.org, 217-344-2371

Jared Teutsch: jteutsch@greatlakes.org, 312-445-9741

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