By James Rowen Special to Published Jan 22, 2010 at 1:04 PM

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Our neighbors to the south have put the "Ick" in Chickago as they continue to place a higher value on poop than public policy.

Chicago, as you know, reversed the flow of the Chicago River a century ago and has merrily since sent its wastewater away from Lake Michigan into a soupy canal and into the Mississippi River basin.

This artificially links the Great Lakes basin with the Mississippi River, from which Asian carp have a good chance at infesting Lake Michigan and beyond.

These fish have no known natural predator, can grow to more than 100 pounds, and have been known to jump out of the water and injure boaters and kill jet-skiers.

And rather than eliminate the invasive carp's gateway, Illinois officials help persuade the US Supreme Court to refuse to order this access point's closure, as most of the other Great Lakes were urging -- to save a $7 billion-dollar commercial fishing industry and recreational pleasures, too.

There is a summit scheduled at the White House in early February to try and figure out what to do now, but it's fair to say that Illinois and Chicago officials have been the obstacles to regional cooperation on a very serious threat to the Great Lakes.

Now we learn that the same authority that operates the wastewater treatment authority wants to continue a practice not followed by any other big city in the country: failing to use disinfectants to remove bacteria from the sludge that goes into the wastewater canal in the first place.


So as not to contribute to global warming!

So now these folks posing as environmentalists -- no doubt to save a few bucks -- yet even Mayor Richard Daley has called for the use of disinfectants.

But for now, its sludge over sustainability.

Poop over public policy.

Thank you, Chickago.

James Rowen Special to
James Rowen is a Milwaukee writer and consultant who blogs at He worked as a reporter and assistant metro editor at The Milwaukee Journal and Journal Sentinel, and held several positions with Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, including Chief of Staff. Rowen is on the board of the Institute for One Wisconsin Now, and receives funding from The Brico Fund; neither organization has control over his writing and blogging.