Algae growth issue causing unsightly look for downtown canal


INDIANAPOLIS — As Indiana continues to reopen amidst the coronavirus pandemic, people are taking to the canal downtown to soak up the warm weather. However, they may notice the water doesn’t look as nice as it did before the pandemic.

The waterway has an algae issue that is resulting in chunks of algae and a film atop the water.

“Greener,” describes Katie Hollman sitting beside the canal, “It looks like they actually dyed it when they didn’t. The water is pretty dirty. We were just talking, I would need a hazmat suit to go in that water.”

The Indianapolis Department Metropolitan Development (DMD) says this is the time of year for pollen and plant debris to fall into the canal, but they believe several other issues are contributing to the problem. It centers around water flow, which helps break up the algae and push it into the White River. They had a pump break which has recently been replaced, and one of the fountains also suffered a mechanical failure. It will be replaced in the coming days and cost the city nothing because it is under warranty.

The fountains were shut off during the pandemic, and boat rentals and gondola rentals were suspended. They have recently returned. The fountains, along with both forms of aquatic entertainment, help push and break up algae growth.

“We certainly didn’t want to have a reason for people to come and congregate at the canal with health and public safety being a priority,” answers DMD Chief of Operations Rusty Carr when asked about why the fountains and boats were shut down.

DMD has been working with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to secure a legacy project that would double the water flow at the north dam. They hope to have that approved in the future.

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