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Federal funds could help with the removal of low-head dams

On Behalf of | Aug 6, 2022 | Firm News

Indiana is home to numerous dams. Like other dams around the country, many are long overdue for repair, upgrade or removal.

Fortunately, some of the money from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress and signed by President Biden late last year will go towards fixing old and decaying dams and removing others in Indiana and across the country. While most of the attention given to the massive legislation revolved around money for roads and bridges, dams are a crucial part of this country’s infrastructure as well.

The $3 billion earmarked for dams is easily the most money ever dedicated to repairing and upgrading the nation’s 90,000+ dams, which are an average of more than 50 years old. Some dams will be removed completely if it will be healthier for the river. Approximately $75 million is going toward dam removal.

Dangerous to people and the environment

Environmental groups have been calling for the removal of a number of low-head dams. According to The Nature Conservancy, they “alter natural habitat and impair how a stream behaves.” They also affect the way those who call them home behave because they “block the upstream movement of fish and other species, impacting their reproductive cycle.”

Low-head dams are also a danger for boaters, kayakers and others who use them for recreational purposes. Dozens of people are injured or killed annually in low-head dams. While they often don’t appear dangerous, they’ve been called “drowning machines.” One young Indiana man paddled his kayak over a low-head dam and ended up caught in a current on the other side.

One of the primary roadblocks to removing these dams has been a lack of money. With the infrastructure package and the money that will be given to the states to spend as they determine is necessary, we could finally see an end to at least some dangerous low-head dams. 

If you or a loved one has been injured or worse due to a low-head dam, it’s wise to find out what legal options you may have for seeking compensation.