House supports Manning’s bill preventing deaths from low head dams

STATEHOUSE  – The House of Representatives today approved State Rep. Ethan Manning’s (R-Denver) legislation to prevent deaths from low head dams with a 95-1 vote.

Manning said a low head dam is a man-made structure typically built within a river or stream channel that spans from bank to bank with the water flowing over top of it creating a circular current underneath. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has located more than 140 low head dams across the state. Under Manning’s bill, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources would be responsible for developing recommendations for a program to eventually remove them.

“Hoosiers use our waterways for a variety of recreational activities like boating or fishing and many people are unaware of the dangers of these dams,” Manning said. “Dozens of people have been hurt or killed from getting caught in the dangerous currents below these dams, so we must take action to help prevent this from happening to others.”

His bill would require the DNR to develop safety and warning standards pertaining to low head dams and notify property owners of these new requirements.

“Besides posing a danger to people, low head dams disrupt the health of our waterways by slowing the water flow and disputing the natural migration of wildlife. Additionally, more people are enjoying our rivers for recreational purposes and the obstruction these dams cause can harm economic development and tourism in this area,” Manning said. “Mitigation or removal are the best options for addressing all these issues.”

This proposed legislation would also make it a Class C infraction to sit, stand, or walk on a low head dam or swim, wade or boat within 50 feet of a low head dam when warning signs are present.

House Bill 1099 now heads to the Senate for further consideration. To learn more, visit iga.in.gov.

SOURCE: News release from State Representative Ethan Manning