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Friday, May 6, 2016

Dam future not as interesting as past

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Autumnal colors bright the landscape along the old dam structure that spans Big Walnut Creek just beyond the Greencastle Water Works plant north of the fairgrounds property. [Order this photo]
For a nice, round $100 fee, the Greencastle Water Works got a dam inspection and a history lesson.

And apparently the city won't really have to do much with either.

Back in July, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources sent inspectors to town to routinely examine the Big Walnut Creek dam behind the city water plant.

Classified as a low-hazard structure, it was built originally as a dam designed to pool the creek waters to facilitate a gristmill operation further up the Big Walnut to the north and east.

At one time, the structure in question paralleled the old covered bridge that spanned the creek from the 1880s until part of it was washed away in the infamous floods of 1957.

As a reminder of those bygone days, a large rock formation that was once part of the support for the old bridge still sticks up above the surface of the water just west of the dam.

The dam itself isn't worth a darn apparently.

"It serves us no real purpose," City Water and Wastewater Superintendent Richard Hedge said, "although it probably helps keep the water level up a little."

State inspectors have termed the five-foot-high, 10-foot-wide structure "conditionally poor," with cracked and missing concrete at both ends and a deteriorating crown.

The abutments fared better in the inspectors' assessment. They were described as appearing stable with no seepage found.

The whole story came up when the Board of Works was recently presented the $100 bill from IDNR for the dam inspection effort.

The presence of the 110-foot-long dam does pool the creek water behind it, which the report notes can impede canoers and kayakers and hinder fish migration. Fact is, few fish are able to jump the dam and continue south and west unless the creek is at or near flood stage. Despite a migration issue, the present situation can make for better fishing on the east and north sides of it.

Pooling of the water behind the dam also likely does help feed the city well field that provides water for about 60 percent of Putnam County. It's just that nobody apparently knows how much or how little effect that has on the well field water volume.

The city does not pump water directly from the creek, but gets it from the well field north and east of the fairgrounds.

It was also noted that the area behind the dam was reworked once before by packing it with stone and clay to retard a whirlpool effect that had had developed along the old structure. That had led to erosion and other issues.

"We really don't have to do anything," Hedge reiterated, adding the IDNR still hopes the city will remove the dam at some point. "They would like for us to take it out, but it's totally up to us."

With cost factors for such a removal project unknown and city officials uncertain what overall effect removal might have on the well field, board members didn't think it would be wise to consider taking the whole dam out.

Regardless, data about the dam and the creek will be collected and passed along to City Engineer Garth Hughes. He is expected to re-examine the situation in the spring.

Hedge suggested there is really no need rush into a decision. After all, the next INDR inspection won't be due for another five years or more.

The only action taken on the issue at the October meeting was the Board of Works' approval to pay the $100 bill.

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Can you fish on the city water propery north/east of the dam?

-- Posted by Trying hard on Thu, Oct 27, 2011, at 10:30 AM

I would like to know that, also. Besides that, I've lived in Putnam county since 1969 and I didn't know that there was a dam there.

-- Posted by interestedperson on Thu, Oct 27, 2011, at 11:03 AM

Can't fish cause someone thinks they own old water works road and tries to block it off to bad it keeps getting ripped down I'll keep tryin to get county to take care of of this but good luck with g castle was good fishin there just have to park at bridge and walk to fish

-- Posted by Putnamman99 on Thu, Oct 27, 2011, at 8:43 PM

I have fished there many years ago, it was decent fishing but as Putnamman99 said you will be hassled about it. We used to paddle down in a canoe, fish, then pull out at Dunbar.

-- Posted by Clovertucky on Thu, Oct 27, 2011, at 9:05 PM

The road is blocked off, because it's not for public use & is private property. If you do not own property on the creek, you do not have a right to fish there. Period.

-- Posted by ibeme on Thu, Oct 27, 2011, at 10:32 PM

Ha ha since when is a public roadway private property check the real law since old water works rd is a county roadway

-- Posted by Putnamman99 on Thu, Oct 27, 2011, at 11:14 PM

The road was closed in accordance with the Indiana Code. Destruction of the signs, barriers or trespassing is a clear violation of the Indiana Code. I find it amazing a grown adult would openly post violations of the law. Your judgment eludes me. Where do you think that road takes you anyway? Your property or someone else's? Please post your address so others can come over to your place, uninvited.

-- Posted by ibeme on Fri, Oct 28, 2011, at 8:54 AM

So I might b wrong but I know I can't share the times I had with my kids because of a few jerks. Too bad the man who used to live next to waterworks is gone. We had permission and still had to deal with jerks and he had to tell them off. I welcome all kinds of people on my property all they have to do is ask. I have several who hunt my land that I dont really know but it's nice to see the kids smile every year. Guess that seperarates me from a greedy jerk!

-- Posted by Putnamman99 on Fri, Oct 28, 2011, at 4:36 PM

The greedy jerk must have been the one who called the cops when my sons tried to go fishing. Takes all kinds.

-- Posted by dumpsterdiva2 on Fri, Oct 28, 2011, at 8:58 PM

I agree it should b open to all people espically kids cause it's a special place in Putnam county. We don't have much around here so it should be shared. If you stand in the water they can't say anything cause it's flowing and they don't own it so forget them it's public. Keep fishing

-- Posted by Putnamman99 on Fri, Oct 28, 2011, at 9:20 PM

3 letters for everyone to remember...DNR.....

-- Posted by kubotafan on Sat, Oct 29, 2011, at 10:18 AM

It seems, that those greedy jerks value their property and don't want people destroying what they've worked all their lives to achieve. It's a shame, but you always have a few bad apples that ruin the barrell for everyone, but, you still have to respect the land owners.

-- Posted by wrinklenose on Sat, Oct 29, 2011, at 11:50 AM

Please refresh yourself where fishing waterways are concern. Crossing any property lines to access any water is a violation of the law. Standing in the waterway is also a violation of the law. Once again, you are inviting others to partake in your disregard for the law or others right to privacy. Shame on you. Name calling people who choose to spend their hard earned money to live along the creek isn't a solution to your problem. Buying property on the creek is.

-- Posted by ibeme on Mon, Oct 31, 2011, at 6:47 PM

I have to wonder about the people who bought property along the creek, saw to it that the public access to that creek was closed off, and thought there wouldn't be any backlash from that.

-- Posted by Clovertucky on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 12:26 PM

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