Taking a closer look at the White River

State News

INDIANA (WEHT) – Crews are taking a close look at the White River. They’re examining the water quality, wildlife and insects that make up the habitat of the river that stretches from nearly one end of Indiana to the other.

While the White River doesn’t get the same kind of attention as the Wabash or Ohio rivers, it is getting a lot of attention from the Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

“What we are trying to do is get a snapshot of what’s going on in the west fork of the White River from the headwaters near Winchester all the way down to where the White River meets the Wabash,” says Kevin Gaston, an environmentalist with IDEM.

That is roughly 300 miles from Muncie to Evansville. Crews are making stops at 62 points along the river, like Petersburg, to take samples of water, insects and fish.

“We use electricity that stuns the fish.  They float to the surface, and we dip them up. We put them in a tub of water, and then we measure and weigh them,” said Sandy Clark-Kolaks, a biologist with DNR, “We are looking at things like, do we have sensitive species, do we have invasive species, do we have generalists to look at the overall health of the river.”

Few Hoosiers get their drinking water from the White River.  The study is more to determine better ways to use the river for things like fishing and other recreational activities.

Researchers are only about halfway through their work.  Analysis of the data should come out next year, but so far researchers like what they are seeing.

“The river is teaming with life.  We’ll sample electrofish for 30 minutes and collect a couple hundred fish, so there’s a lot of life out there,” says Clark-Kolaks.

While the conclusions about the river won’t be available for another month, a lot of the raw data has been made public. You can look at that data by clicking here.

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