What is the Indianapolis White River North project?
The project involves construction of floodwalls and earthen levees along the east bank of the White River in the Broad Ripple and Warfleigh neighborhoods to reduce flood risk.
After the 1991 flooding, the City sought to upgrade and construct a levee system to reduce flooding risk to residents and businesses along the White River and remove them from the floodplain. After required study, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers implemented a project cooperation agreement and plan for levee construction along the section of the White River from Broad Ripple southward to Butler Tarkington.
Who and what will this project affect?
When complete, the project will protect public facilities, homeowners, residential and business property, utility installations and other infrastructure behind the flood risk reduction system. The project is designed to remove an estimated 1,500 businesses and homes from the 0.35 percent annual exceedance or 300-year floodplain. Approximately 1,300 of those structures are located within the 1 percent annual event (100-year) floodplain in the Broad Ripple, Warfleigh and Butler-Tarkington neighborhoods.
How does it affect me?
If you are a resident or property owner currently located behind the proposed project, properties may no longer be subject to flooding and flood control zoning restrictions. Additionally, when the project is complete, you may no longer pay flood insurance for your business or personal property. Flooding rates vary based on the severity of flooding.
Is the project complete?
No. Two of the three proposed sections – Monon-Broad Ripple and Warfleigh – are completed. The final South Warfleigh/Butler-Tarkington section (Phase 3B) is currently underway.
What are the roles and responsibilities of the City and Corps?
In 2000, the City entered into an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a federal and local cost-share project to construct the Indianapolis White River North Indiana Project. The City cost shares 25 percent of the total project, acquires real estate easements, and initiates relocations of existing utilities for construction of the floodwall and levee. City representatives also participate in the project as a member of the Project Coordination Team. The city has input into the design and construction of the project within the parameters of the Project Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and in conformance with Federal regulations. The City takes over operation of the project, when complete.
Is the project permitted by regulatory agencies?
The project is subject to all applicable environmental permitting reviews, such as the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Compliance with federal fish and wildlife laws and cultural resource laws must be coordinated with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Indiana State Historic Preservation Office, and others.
Will trees have to be cut for construction?
Yes. Trees and brush will be removed to allow for construction of the flood protection system. In addition, trees and shrubs will be cleared to provide a required 15-foot wide root free zone stretching from the toe of the finished levee or completed floodwalls to meet current Corps of Engineers’ requirements.
Why is there a cleared root free zone?
Trees and other woody vegetation, such as shrubs and vines, can create both structural and seepage instabilities, prevent adequate inspection, and create obstacles to maintenance and flood-fighting/flood-control activities.
Will the floodwaters pollute the canal and drinking water?
Indianapolis drinking water will not be affected by floodwaters in the project limits or by construction of the proposed floodwall. The City of Indianapolis primarily uses the White River as its source for drinking water; however, that water is first supplied to the water treatment plant to ensure safety for drinking. On any given day, the river waters can generally be considered polluted beyond drinking water standards. Canal water is one of the sources of drinking water for Indianapolis. It is always treated by the water treatment plant. Currently, the canal periodically carries floodwaters and even in these situations, the floodwater is first transported to the treatment plant.
Does the project protect the Canal and is the City's water supply in jeopardy if the flood protection is not extended to Rocky Ripple?
Neither the original alignment, including Rocky Ripple, nor the current Westfield Boulevard alignment provides full flood protection for the Canal. The Canal will be inundated in a flood event at several locations downstream of the project limits. The only way to fully protect the Canal would be to extend the flood protection along with Canal to where it crosses under West 38th Street. This has not been considered or studied. It would require Congressional action to extend the scope of the project.
What about graffiti?
All finished concrete surfaces will be treated with an anti-graffiti finish. This coating has been used in the completed segments of the project. The City carries out an aggressive campaign against graffiti and maintains a substantial graffiti removal program to restore structures damaged by graffiti.
How does this structure affect the recreational area surrounding it?
Indy Parks and Recreation Department utilizes levees and incorporates trail systems as long as all required operations and maintenance issues can be addressed long term to maintain flood protection. As an example, the Warfleigh floodwall is located on the White River Greenway. Additionally, flood protection has also been constructed along the Monon Trail.
Why wasn’t the town of Rocky Ripple included in the project?
The Town of Rocky Ripple was included in the project’s feasibility study in the mid-1990s. However, in April 1996, the Town requested it not be included as part of the Indianapolis White River North Flood Damage Reduction Project. In February 2004, the Rocky Ripple Town Council formally requested that the City of Indianapolis reinstate the neighborhood in the project. At that time, City leaders decided to continue with the then present alignment, and therefore declined the request.
Can Rocky Ripple be included now?
The Corps has indicated by the DSEIS that a feasible "federally funded" Rocky Ripple is not currently available. The City has committed to working with the local communities to determine a feasible cost effective alternative for flood protection.
What happens if the final phase of this project isn’t completed?
All three components of the system must be complete before benefits can be realized. If the project isn’t completed, properties that would be protected by the levee and floodwall would remain within the floodplain. Public infrastructure remains vulnerable to damage by flood flows and property owners would continue to pay national flood insurance premiums and remain subject to flood control zoning restrictions.
Significant White River Flood Events in Indy