Wednesday, September 02, 2009

We Interrupt This Blog... bring you a special bulletin, which will matter not one bit to any of you who don't live in Indianapolis. But most of you know I live on a 170+ year old canal, and that much of the joy in my life consists of walking out my front door each morning and seeing wood ducks, turtles, muskrats, etc. and so on... not to mention feeling as if I'm living in a small rustic town rather than in a city of 800,000 people, thanks to the wall of vegetation on the opposite bank. Last week, the water company which owns the canal (it's a working canal, it supplies 60% of the city's water) unveiled a plan to strip all the vegetation and several feet of dirt from both banks and replace them with a combination of mesh and riprap stone, turning this

into this:

The plan achieves the goal of preventing muskrats from denning in the bank, which does cause subsidence, and keeps geese from sliding down into the water and taking soil with them when they do it. But it will also destroy the look and feel of the canal, will drive off nearly all the bird life outside of mallards (which can live anywhere) and will completely prevent successful nesting for the 5 species of turtles which make their homes here. It's nuts. At the meeting I went to on August 24, only one of the water company representatives seemed at all interested in citizens' concerns; the main people on the project were anxious to tell us what they were planning and what a great solution it would be, but when asked questions such as "How will turtles get out to nest?" and "Will the water company repair property damage done by heavy equipment once the project is completed?" and "How will the company maintain this solution to prevent it from becoming a weed-choked eyesore," they just shrugged and told us they'd look into it. Gee, thanks. Think you might have "looked into" all this shit before settling on a plan and presenting it to the people whose property abuts your canal?

Anyway, if you live in Indianapolis, and you walk the canal's towpath and appreciate the wildlife it supports, please consider writing a letter to IDEM, or to Veolia Water, or to the local paper, and put your two cents in. Since the Star broke an article on this on Monday, the local DNR has apparently been flooded with emails requesting a re-examination of the project, so it's possible we might actually be able to be heard and this project could be delayed until another solution is found. My letter was in the Star on Wednesday.