To prevent the threat of Asian Carp from entering the Great Lakes eco-system it will require a three part solution that will also address three other major problems confronting the city of Chicago. The overall goal is to create a more efficient, profitable, and environmentally friendly Chicago with an improved riverfront.
The first component of the plan is damming the South Branch of the Chicago River at the confluence of the South, North, and Main branches. This site was selected for several reasons. First of all it will allow the city to connect its riverfront walk system downtown while expanding tourism opportunities along the Chicago River. Additionally it will force the city to immediately solve its sewage problems in the dense Downtown area and North Side of the city, while allowing the sewage problems on the less dense South and West Sides to be corrected incrementally at a financially sustainable pace.
The second component of the system will be two large wetlands to be created at the mouth of the North Branch near the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette and at the mouth of the Main Branch South of Navy Pier. These wetlands will raise the level of the North and Main Branches of the Chicago River so that they are five feet higher than average level of Lake Michigan. More importantly, the wetlands will clean the water that will fl ow from the North and Main Branches back into Lake Michigan, significantly reducing the amount of water we divert from the Great Lakes Basin. The wetlands will also function as large ecological reserves with elevated walkways to be enjoyed by Chicagoans and visitors to our city.
The third and final component will be placing one or more dams in the Lake Calumet region and creating the world’s largest landlocked intermodal port around it; while ensuring that Chicago will forever be the main hub for transportation and shipping within North America. The port will require facilities for transferring materials between barges from both sides of the dam, trains, and trucks, as well as transferring personal watercraft over the dam via land. The creation of this port will coincide with the streamlining of Chicago’s currently congested and poorly coordinated railroads. The location on Chicago’s far South Side will divert freight operations away from the city’s center as well as providing for efficient East-West transportation across the continent.
With these proposed changes the South Branch of the Chicago River as well as the Cal-Sag Channel will maintain their current water levels. This will be controlled via the already existing Lockport Locks and, in the short-term, of the continued practice of dumping treated sewage from the South and West Sides into the river.
This proposal will focus mainly on the design of the South Branch dam, to be known as the Three Branches Dam, as well as give a basic conceptual design of the downtown wetlands, to be known as the Richard M Daley Wetlands. It is assumed that the Baha’i Temple will be involved with the design of the Wilmette wetlands, while the major freight lines in conjunction with a new port authority will design the dams and port to be created in the Lake Calumet region.
Status: School Project
Location: Chicago, IL, US