In the wake of the recent White River dam rescues and one tragic fatality, Councillor Colleen Fanning and river resident Bruce DeWitt convened a meeting to immediately address the lack of low head dam warning signage on the White River.
Twenty two stakeholders gathered Wednesday, July 27 at the White River Yacht Club from 6:30-8 pm. Present were multiple representatives from Citizens Energy Group, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and IFD. Along represented were the Department of Public Works, Friends of the White River, the White River Yacht Club, Friends of Broad Ripple Park, environmental engineering firm Butler Fairman & Seufer, and several property owners living adjacent to the dams in question.
Temporary signs were purchased and have been placed in the three most popular put-in locations in Broad Ripple. Longer-term signage, for bridges, banks, and put-in locations, was discussed. Citizens Energy Group is willing to provide warning signage to their 5 Marion County dams. A smaller task force will meet early next week to finalize details and logistics. Members include IFD, DNR, CEG, Bruce DeWitt and Councillor Fanning.
Future educational plans were discussed. As Marion and Hamilton Counties continue to activate the White River, the citizenry needs access to safety information. Channels discussed include web videos, social media campaigns, an annual River Safety Day, coordination with local wether media when river conditions are dangerous, and using retailers to disseminate river safety information to renters and buyers. This meeting signaled the start of a longer-term effort to provide safety education to both river users and potential rescuers.
Councillor Fanning will host a River Safety Training Workshop at the White River Yacht Club later this summer, date to be determined. The workshop will feature expert demonstrations and training by DNR Executive Officer Lieutenant Col. Hyndman Terry Hyndman and IFD Special Operations Cheif Kevin Jones. Officers Hyndman and Jones will cover water safety best practices, survival strategies in case of an accident, rescue training for those nearby, and more. The workshop will be videotaped and broadcast to social and traditional channels. Councillor Fanning will provide more updates as they are available.