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Drought Having Mixed Effects On Indiana Waters


Photo: Dan Goldblatt/WFIU News

Fisherman Benito Zacapa enjoys a day off work by fishing in the White River, just north of Martinsville.

The excessive heat and drought has put somewhat of a damper on fishing along one of Indiana’s largest rivers. Even though the hot weather is keeping some anglers away, the White River is actually seeing less pollution because of the lack of rain.

A spokesperson from Citizens Energy, the company that manages waste water treatment in Indianapolis, says there have only been three combined sewage overflow this summer. Combined sewage overflows occur in Indianapolis when the rainfall overloads the waste water facilities, and raw sewage is discharged into the White River.

U.S. Geological Survey surface water expert Jeff Martin says that the lack of rain is also causing less pollution from farms to runoff into rivers, but says the dry conditions are also not allowing rivers and streams to be flushed with fresh rainwater as often as normal.

He says this, along with high temperatures, causes more algae to grow, depleting oxygen levels in the water during the day.

Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Assistant Commissioner in the Office of Water Quality, Bruno Pigott, says even with less discharges this year, people should still be careful where they swim and fish.

“If you see signs because you’re downstream, just slightly of a combined sewer outfall, then you probably shouldn’t be in that area after a rain event, he says. “Those pipes discharge water that has been through a sewer system during rain events.”

At one popular fishing spot in Morgan County this Wednesday, only one brave fisherman tried his luck in the White River. Benito Zacapa says he will only stay out a few hours, but the heat isn’t stopping him from enjoying a day off of work.

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