White River: Perspectives

Well gosh, I don’t know too much about the
White River. The water is mossy a lot of the time. There’s a film over the top of the water in
some parts. I think people think it’s dirty, especially
along the banks. I have heard nothing at all about any cleanup
efforts. I have gone canoeing on it. I thought about kayaking a few times, but
there’s random branches everywhere. I personally would not take it as my first
choice to go swimming in. I would never eat a fish out of White River. It’s a little bit up in the air as far as
how polluted it is. We’re not sure. It’s sad to think about. Wow. I like to be on the river because it provides
me incredible solace. There is nothing more quieting for my soul, more beneficial to my
soul than the quiet and natural sound of the river. To be on the river gives you an opportunity
to be mindful of everything around you in every moment. I’m an introvert by nature.
I like to be alone. But, I don’t like to be alone without stimulus, and to be out here,
when you’re alone, you hear nothing but birds. And wind and current. And the rustle of the
trees. To me, it’s the most quieting atmosphere that I can be in. I wanna see more people
on the river. I wanna see people engage. I really think it’s a shame we’ve turned our
back on what, really, this river is the resource that put Noblesville here, put Indianapolis
where they are, put Anderson where they are, was this river. And so many people turn their
back on it. They either don’t know or they’ve just been taught through society that you
turn your back on the river. When you canoe in the northeast, canoeing
is part of the culture. In Indiana, we don’t have established camp sites along White River.
It’s just not something that’s done here. There’s so many communities where the restaurants
face the river. Apartments are over the river. We do the opposite here in central Indiana.
I’d really like to see that turn around. I would really like to canoe the entire White
River. I think it would be really interesting to see my state from the river [inaudible
00:03:10]. I think it would be an incredible point of view. We probably don’t know ourselves
as well as we should. I can’t say I know myself as well as I should because of my six weeks
of canoeing on the White River, but I know it helps. It gives me a chance to look inward
and really appreciate why I’m here, what I’m doing, and how I’m part of the bigger picture.
It’s my happy place. This family farm is actually a six generation
family farm. We have dramatically different rain events than when I was a child. Therefore,
we have to manage those rain events in a better way. With the type of farming that I do, I
can get through those problems that we have out there. That’s because of the no-till practices,
the conservation efforts that we perform, the cover crops that we have. With [inaudible
00:04:39] in our soil, we not only improve water quality, improve soil structure, but
we also have dramatically reduced the amount of fertilizer that needs to be applied to
our farm. Our farm has been involved with a water monitoring project, starting 14 years
ago. The great part of all this is that what we’re seeing coming off my farm is lower in
nitrate and phosphorous than what’s actually in the stream. This is what we’re trying to study. This is
what we’re trying to promote to others, that this type of farming is needed in order to
have clean water, not only locally for Indianapolis but also nationwide. I’m standing in front
of School Branch, which is the third largest tributary of the drinking water for Indianapolis.
This flows into Eagle Creek Reservoir and from there it goes out to the White River.
It’s important for me to make sure my water is clean coming off my farm to go in this
stream because we all drink water. We all need water. We all need to protect water.
Hopefully, we will not be told how to farm, because with the type of practices that we
are doing, we can educate others that doing these practices we can be on the forefront
of leading the way of water quality. It’s not only improving the environment, but it’s
also improving my crops. The CSO projects come in [inaudible 00:06:57]
for the cities that can’t handle the increase of population, the increase in overflow. It
does nothing but improves life for the whole city. This is not my first CSO project. I
just came off of one in Atlanta, and I watched the rivers get cleaner. Being involved in
the outdoors, I watched everything got greener, got cleaner. The river cleaned up. The water
got brighter. My family and I, we all enjoy the outdoors. The cleaner the water, the better
the environment. You see wildlife improve all the way around. You see more recreation
in the areas. It’s better for people. I started to work here in 2012. You’re already seeing
the benefits in the White River, as far as it getting cleaner, and it’s just gonna get
better as we go. It’s great. I’ve seen it work before. It is gonna take a few years
to get everything lined out, but by the end of this project and possibly a few years after
that, you’ll see a big difference in the environment. It’s a win-win for everyone. The environment
wins, the people win. There’s a lot of cities that I’ve worked in that I couldn’t wait to
get out of. This is one I wouldn’t mind staying in for a while. I think the White River’s kind of an underutilized
resource in Indianapolis. We really need people to have more intimate,
more personal relationships with the White River because then they will want to become
a steward of it. It feels kinda like a hidden gem. It really could be very nice and very usable
if they’d clean it up. I do not think that the White River will be
clean again. Give it attention because these things are
diminishing. I think it just starts with grab a kayak and
go cruise from Broad Ripple down to Rocky Ripple and gain an appreciation for what an
awesome resource the White River really is. Then you might care more.

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