|Potential Economic Downfall After Lock Closures|
A DePaul University report recently defined the potential economic consequences of closing the Chicago River Controlling Works and O'Brien locks on the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). Joseph P. Schwieterman's analysis was performed due to concerns about the Asian carp's migration into the Great Lakes.
Possible responses to the current situation include closing the Chicago Controlling Works, the Thomas J. O'Brien Lock and the Wilmette Pumping Station in the CAWS. The study analyzes the likely financial effects of these actions, and how they could affect the economic wellbeing of the region.
The study demonstrates that the financial impact upon affected boat and barge operations would be $1.3 billion annually, including the waterway usage and excluding the effect on employment, which is immeasurable at this point. The total costs during the next 20 years would be $4.7 billion; this number includes a first-year total of $582 million, followed by an annual amount of $531 million during the subsequent seven years, and $155 million each year afterward.
After the first year of the closures, recreational boaters would lose $5 million in income; municipal departments would lose $6 million because they would not be performing their standard public protection; river tour and cruise consumers would spend $20 million less than usual; property owners would lose $51 million; transportation spending would be down $125 million; and the loss to regional agencies who would normally need funding for flood abatement systems would be $375 million. Certain Mississippi River basin ports serving the barge transportation industry and other industries outside of the Chicago area would help to pay for these losses.
Hopefully these financial effects will be considered as authorities determine the courses of action that will be taken regarding the migration of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.