Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v12n21)
Everything you always wanted to know about the canal...Part Four
posted: Oct. 16, 2015
"One that we just talked about is the College Station. The other one is over on Illinois Street, and you may not even know it's a pump station, it looks like a house," said Ed Malone (Director Water Production Citizens Energy Group).
What!? More hidden structures that I pass every day and don't see? "Where is it?" I asked.
"It's just south of Kessler Boulevard, on the west side of Illinois. You know where the park is right there at Kessler and Illinois? Directly to the south of that," said Ed.
"It really does look like a house," added Sarah Holsapple (Media Relations for Citizens).
This pump station is built to look like a house so it blends in with the neighborhood. It isn't a secret, there are often Citizens trucks parked there, it is just trying to fit it.
The "pump house" on Illinois just south of Kessler.
Continuing in this area of the city I asked about a structure in Alice Carter Park, between Meridian Street and Westfield Boulevard at 57th. Ed explained that the little building in the park is a sewage pump station. That is a Citizens station because it deals with sewage. If it were a storm sewer pump station then it would belong to the City of Indianapolis. Ed and Sarah reiterated that Citizens owns drinking water and sewage systems and the City of Indianapolis owns the storm sewer system. I know that this is further complicated by the portions of the system where Indy has combined storm and sewage, but this is not the place for that discussion.
The small sewage pump station in Alice Carter Park.
This storm sewer dumping into the river discussion took me back to Broad Ripple.
Back in May of 2012 there was a heavy rain on the Northside. The normal operation of the storm sewer in Broad Ripple is for the curb storm drains to gather the rain water and channel it into the storm sewer. The sewers combine into a large pipe that ends at a very large concrete structure on the west bank of the White River at about Coil Street and Westfield Boulevard.
The sewer gates east of Westfield Boulevard as they open to the White River. The north gate is open in this picture.
storm sewer gates to White River in Broad Ripple
This structure allows the storm sewer to empty into White River, downstream of the dam and the canal. There are strong gates across the face of it that can be controlled by a mechanism at the top. That mechanism was visible from driving by on Westfield Boulevard, but now is not, possibly because of the levee. Someone, either an official worker or someone possibly using that structure for shelter, had closed the gates. The water quickly filled in the sewer system until it hit the closed gates, then kablooey! Manhole covers all over the Village blew off and geysers appeared in the streets. The streets quickly flooded and even overflowed into several businesses along Westfield Boulevard, doing damage.
1996: This geyser was probably 6 feet tall on Cornell Avenue.
image courtesy of C. "Frog" Russell
"There was so much flow, when it came over the banks of the canal it eroded the banks very badly", recalled Ed.
Next I asked about the very large boulders that line the entrance on both ends of the red Monon train bridge that is now part of the Monon Trail as it crosses the canal. Ed said that the stones were not placed there by Citizens. That was part of the Greenways project to improve the Monon Trail.
Boulders at the entrance to the Monon canal bridge.
Speaking of bridges, I asked about numerous ones that cross the canal, there are original car bridges and several newly built and some historic ones (or at least they are built to look historic) that have been placed for foot traffic.
"There's a neat old [bridge] at Butler, in Holcomb Gardens. Across the canal," I mentioned.
The canal bridge at Butler's Holcomb Gardens.
"Well, that's a fairly new bridge," replied Ed.
"Right, but it's got an old tag on it, so..."
Ed explained, "It's a repositioned bridge." Meaning that it could an old bridge that has been moved here. This bridge at Butler is a pedestrian pathway from the Central Canal Trail into Holcomb Gardens.
"But that's not water company's property," I added
Ed replied, "No, we no longer own any of the bridges that cross the canal. All of the bridges that cross the canal are either owned by DPW or others - Greenways, Art Museum, Butler. So, we are no longer in the bridge business. Decades and decades ago, all of the bridges across the canal used to be the utility's responsibility, and owned by the utility. But that is not true any more."
pedestrian bridge over canal at Butler's Holcomb Gardens
End of Part Four