Stabilizing the embankments of Central Canal

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At a meeting held Monday, Sept. 14, at Broad Ripple High School, Veolia representatives and Matt Klein, Executive Director for the Department of Waterworks, elaborated on plans to ensure the integrity of the Central Canal's sagging banks.

Short speeches and presentations were given followed by questions and concerns from citizens who live in the surrounding area.

The effort to stabilize the embankments of the canal has been on the capital plan for five years, according to Veolia officials. The bond-funded project is appropriated for about one million dollars.

Veolia initially sought to line the canal's banks with crushed limestone from College Avenue to 52nd Street. About one quarter of this area has now been excluded as Veolia officials say that the area from 52nd Street to Capitol Avenue will remain untouched until a later date. Also, the stone to be put in place above the water line has been switched from crushed limestone to more aesthetically pleasing river rock.

Veolia is consulting with Butler researcher Travis Ryan, who has studied the ecology of the canal for years, as well as JFNew, an ecological services firm and native plant nursery. In discussions with Ryan, Veolia discussed the option of leaving areas of the banks open as possible nesting habitat for the six species of turtle that inhabit the canal.

Veolia engineers now estimate that the project of laying down geo-textile mats covered with rocks to stop burrowing critters will take place between March and April 2010 and only take about two months.

Veolia Vice President of Operations Ed Malone stressed that this project is critical in maintaining flow in the canal, a problem that they struggled with at times in the past when Veolia could not get enough water down the canal to the White River Treatment Facility. One hundred twenty million gallons is standard daily volume to pass the canal; at times Veolia has struggled to reach 70 million gallons a day.

In spite of Veolia's consultations with many environmental specialists, some citizens at the meeting worried because the talks are all conjecture at this point in time. More in attendance at the meeting expressed concern for the trees lining the canal which they fear may be cut down. Engineers with the project cite that only diseased trees and trees in the actual embankment will be cut.

Veolia uses a system for replacing trees cut in which they re-plant three times the caliper inches they remove.

Veolia is working with DNR in acquiring permits for the work which may affect wildlife. If disturbed, many animals would most likely migrate to White River.

Many at the meeting were surprised to discover that Veolia's project on the canal is not the only work that users of the towpath may expect to see. Malone also intimated that the Army Corps of Engineers would be building a gate which would cross the canal near the Riviera Club.

Some trees on the canal are marked for cutting in connection with the Army Corps project which will coordinate with Indianapolis' Department of Public Works. John Oakley at the Department of Public Works was unavailable for comment.

Veolia and Indianapolis Water plan to have another meeting on the subject of the Central Canal soon. Go to for the latest updates and see images for the canal plan.

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