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Indianapolis receives federal grant to destroy deadly Emrichsville Dam

Dam responsible for three boater deaths since partial collapse in 2018
emrichsville dam.jpg
Posted at 10:38 PM, Apr 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-29 22:38:05-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Emrichsville Dam has held back the White River near downtown Indianapolis for more than 100 years, but it will soon be torn down after several boaters drowned in its current.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided a $750,000 grant for the dam's removal in order to allow fish to swim freely through the White River.

However, the dam has proven to be harmful to humans as well as fish. A teenager drowned when his canoe overturned in the dam three years ago, and two kayakers died in the dam's current earlier this month.

The dam also partially collapsed in 2018.

Friends of the White River has advocated for the dam's removal since the 2021 drowning.

"How many more people have to die before this dam comes out? I hope that number is zero," said Friends of the White River executive director Scott Salmon. "I'm extremely worried about anyone who gets close to this dam in a recreational kayak or a fishing boat or anything."

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works is responsible for the dam's removal.

It provided the following statement to WRTV:

Last week, our team was thrilled to learn that our grant application for the removal of the Emrichsville Dam was approved. The removal of the dam will improve recreational safety along the White River, provide unrestricted fish passage, and many more benefits.

Our engineers are currently working on the next steps for this project. At this time, we are not able to provide a timeframe for removal.

-Kyle Bloyd, Indianapolis Department of Public Works

Salmon hopes the Department of Public Works demolishes the dam as soon as possible.

"When you bring in heavy equipment and start getting this stuff out to make the river safer, then I'll be pleased and happy," Salmon said. "Until I see rock coming out, I'm going to keep advocating for the removal of this dam."