Sen. Mark Kirk gives Lake Michigan’s water quality a ‘C’
By Abdon M. Pallasch Political Reporter email@example.com August 10, 2011 6:28PM
Senator Mark Kirk talks about the Lake Michigan Report Card, Wednesday, August 10, 2011, on the North Terrace of the Shedd Aquarium. | Jean Lachat~Sun-Times
Updated: October 3, 2011 12:10PM
Lake Michigan may appear to be a beautiful blue, but it’s actually quite murky, Sen. Mark Kirk said Wednesday as he gave the lake a “C” overall in a report card on the lake’s water quality.
Beach water quality got a grade of “D.” Sewage pollution — 6.5 billion gallons of raw sewage were dumped into the lake in the Chicago area last year — still causes the closure of beaches every year and results in a grade of “C.” And while no Asian carp have yet been found in the lake, Kirk gave the lake a “C” for invasive species.
“While we have made progress in some areas, Lake Michigan is still challenged by invasive species, sewage dumping and far too many closed beaches,” Kirk said from the terrace of the Shedd Aquarium, the lake behind him. Kirk co-chairs the U.S. Senate’s Great Lakes Task Force.
Kirk was much easier on Wisconsin Wednesday than he was seven years ago at another Shedd roundtable when he blamed “cheesehead sewer water” for closing Chicago beaches.
His report Wednesday noted Wisconsin has only one agency dumping sewage into Lake Michigan while Indiana has 18 and Michigan has 11. Detroit alone dumps 13 million gallons of raw sewage into the Great Lakes annually — the lion’s share of the 24 million gallons that gets dumped into all five lakes.
Kirk and Sen. Dick Durbin are pushing for a ban on sewage dumping into the lakes. Both senators also say they devote an increasing amount of their time to the struggle to keep Asian Carp out of Lake Michigan.
“I get more questions on carp,” Durbin said at a City Club of Chicago speech Monday.
Kirk’s only comment about Wisconsin at Wednesday’s news conference had nothing to do with the lake. He commended the Republican party there for keeping four of its six state senate seats following several union-led recall attempts Tuesday after lawmakers restricted state employees’ collective bargaining rights.
“The organized far left was dealt a critical blow,” Kirk said. “The far left’s message has no traction.” Kirk took another political shot, this one at the income and corporate tax hike approved earlier by Gov. Pat Quinn and the Democratic controlled-state legislature in Illinois.
“Our state used to have a reputation as being a corrupt circus,” Kirk said. “Now our state has a reputation of being a corrupt circus with high taxes.”